As the Assads increase their reliance on local militia and gangs, the potential for a nationwide meltdown increases. Only the protesters’ continued commitment to nonviolence keeps the country together at this stage.
The village of Al-Baydah near the coastal city of Banyas today was the scene of a horror show mastered by the Shabbiha, the pro-Assad gangs who seem to be taking the lead in the nation-wide crackdown alongside regular security forces, loyal army troops, and selected unites of the Republic Guard. Few hundreds of them poured into the village’s main square, conduced house raids, arresting hundreds of inhabitants and dragging them to the public square where they were beaten with batons. The children were forced to watch then stage a pro-Assad rally.
We can now confirm as well, that several army officers have indeed been executed because they refused orders to open fire on unarmed protesters. The inhabitants of the city of Madaya, which remains under military siege after yesterday’s protests, assert that their son Murad Hajjo was killed by security officers for his refusal to open fire on protesters. This is what the inhabitants of the historic city of Tadmor (Palmyra) also think was the fate of their son, Muhammad Awad Al-Kanbar, whose funeral was held earlier on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, and despite the current state of siege imposed on each town in Deraa and on communities and suburbs throughout the country, several rallies were held today in support of the people of Banyas, including in Deraa City, Hrak, Kobani, Kisweh, Barzeh and Al-Tal.
Finally, around 75 students who took part in yesterday’s protests at Damascus University or refused to take part in the pro-Assad rally that hastily thrown afterwards have been summarily expelled from university or referred to a disciplinary committee for expulsion.