Protesters mock Bashar Al-Assad and defy his armies in the Friday dedicated to the deligitimization of his regime.
Experts keep waiting for a Tahrir-like moment to take place in Syria, but many such moments have already taken place throughout the country. In various communities in Deraa, Banyas, Homs, Idlib, Damascus and now Hama and Deir Ezzor and Alboukamal, etc., protesters gathered in the main squares in the tens and hundreds of thousands, depending on the size of the particular community, and expressed their opposition to the ruling regime. Observers failed to characterize these events as Tahrir-like in nature, because their frame of reference is skewed. They keep using Egypt as their reference, despite the radically different circumstances prevailing in both countries. In Egypt, high-rankling military leaders sides with the protesters early on. In Syria, and due to the sectarian background of most top military generals, their allegiance to the Assads remains strong and they feel equally threatened by the protest movement.
Since the early days of the revolution, military units established security checkpoints and barricades all over the country, separating and isolating main provinces, main communities within each province and, in case of some mixed cities, such as Lattakia, main neighborhoods within the city. With these blockades in place, and in cooperation with security forces, popular militias and gangs (the Shabbiha or the Assad death squads) as well as the many army units willing to follow orders of shoot on sight, even if the protesters are unarmed, the possibility of organizing million strong sit-ins a la Tahrir is minimal. Still, and in the face of all odds, protesters have managed to field numerous demonstrations and sit-ins of up to 150,000 in some instances, as was the case in Hama City earlier today: Friday, June 24.
Bearing in mind as well that Syria’s population is estimated at 23 million while Egypt’s exceeds 80 million, the assertion by some observers and experts that a million-strong march or sit-in has to take place before the revolution is considered truly popular and capable of threatening the regime’s grip on power, is not simply unrealistic, it fails to understand the import of what is actually taking place in Syria, namely that the regime’ grip on power is indeed slipping.
Assad’s control rests solely on military strength and the willingness of its supporters to resort to violence under protection by military and security forces. The fact that pro-Assad rallies, their size notwithstanding, only take place when they are directly organized by the state while protests happen on a daily basis, around the clock and throughout the country comes as an additional evidence of the Assads’ limited base of support and loyalty.
The Assads’ control does not extend far beyond their guns and their tanks. Everything else is now a mirage.
Congress on Syria
Videos from Friday of Deligitimization
Following are some highlights from Reuters, with my own video links and commentary:
HAMA -- Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the main Orontes Square, where YouTube footage showed banners that read: "Long live Syria and down with Bashar" and "Rami Makhlouf and the 40 thieves," referring to Assad's hated tycoon cousin.
Hama / Hama City / June 24: 150,000 protesters demonstrate shouting “the people want to topple the regime… the people want to drop its legitimacy.”
Protesters chant their favorite Song “Syria wants freedom”
And the protest slowly turns into a vigil.
“We are revolutionaries and we want freedom, o our precious homeland”
Karnaz: “The people want Freedom”
HOMS -- Protests erupted in the Bab Sbaa, Bab Amr, and Jub Jandali and Ghuta districts. Security forces used live fire, killing at least three protesters, residents and activists said.
Oh Young people of Damascus, in Homs, the regime has fallen”
The “Germ” Song: mocking Al-Assad’s reference to the protesters as germs, these protesters come up with their own song celebrating the Germ. Unfortunately, the exact words are hard to make out, but the collective cry of “Jarthoumeh [Germ]” is not.
Security forces collect the empty shells left behind by army troops firing on protesters.
Homs / Jobar
Homs / Al-Waer
Protesters mock the chant of Assad loyalists “Abou Hafiz [Bashar]”: “Damn your soul, Abou Hafiz”
Deir Baalbah: local residents reiterate the above chant as well, as they wave the Independence flag.
Homs / Talbisseh: continuous crackdown did not dampen the revolutionary spirit of this protest town “Freedom, we want freedom” “the people want to topple the regime” “where are you sniper?” “Don’t worry mother, your son is going to heaven”
Homs / Omar Mosque: security forces open tear gas and fire on unarmed protesters
Homs / Bab Al-Sibaa: thousands or protesters carrying banners rejecting the dishonest call for dialogue launched by Al-Assad.
Homs / Souq Al-Hasheesh
Homs / Safir Hotel: “the people want to topple the regime” “Damn your soul Hafiz”
Security forces use tear gas to disperse the protests
Homs / Ghouta: the chants of “we sacrifice our blood and soul for you Bashar” echoes by Assad security forces get drowned by cries of women shouting from their balconies saying “the people want to topple the regime”
QUSAIR -- Security forces shot dead one protester after a crowd of up to 6,000 gathered in the second week of protests in the small town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Protesters come under fire. Fatalities reported
HOULA -- Up to 20,000 protesters carried an effigy of Assad on a rope with a placard saying: "Executed for crimes against humanity," two residents said.
Homs / Al-Houla: “the people want to topple the regime”
RASTAN -- A local activist group said residents demonstrated despite a troop presence on the outskirts of the town.
ALEPPO -- Hundreds of protesters marched from mosques in the Seif al-Dawlah, Marjah and Halak districts. Dozens were arrested, residents said.
Small demonstration in Seif Al-Dawleh Neighborhood
Small demonstration in Marjeh Neighborhood
Demonstrations erupted also in the countryside just north of Aleppo, mainly in the Kurdish region of Ifrin bordering Turkey.
In the impoverished Kurdish town of Ain al-Arab, on the Turkish border, hundreds chanted "one hand against the regime."
Big demonstrations took place in a region where anti-Assad protests provoked a military assault. YouTube footage showed thousands chanting for change and waving placards reading "Leave, you are not my president" in the provincial capital.
Mouarrat Al-Nouman: It seems military incursions did not dampen the spirit of this protest hotbed. The local residents still “want to topple the regime”
Idlib City: tear gas used to disperse a demonstration
Banash: “Syria wants freedom.” Writing on the flag: “the people want to topple the regime”
Snipers shot dead five protesters in the capital's Barzeh district, a witness said. Secret police deployed at the Hassan mosque in Maydan, stopping 2,000 worshippers from demonstrating. Tear gas dispersed protesters at three nearby mosques.
YouTube footage showed protests in Kfar Souseh and Qaboun.
Witnesses said protests had also occurred in towns around Damascus such as Qatana, Irbin, Saqba and Hajar al-Aswad.
Protesters burned Iranian and Hezbollah flags in Saqba, activists said. In Dariya suburb, thousands marched in the main street chanting "Bashar "Go away with your party." In Kiswa, south of Damascus, Syrian forces shot dead five protesters.
Al-Tall: protesters come under fire from security forces, but they keep shouting “Freedom”
Al-Qadam: people salute the residents of other protests communities
Kisweh: a funeral of the martyr Ahmad Al-Hariri that produces several others, thanks to snipers.’ Protesters chant: “damn your soul Hafiz [Al-Assad]”
Mother of the Martyr
Snipers open fire on protesters
Tear gas and bullets
One of the martyrs felled by snipers’ bullets
Douma: heavy security presence prevents demonstrations, but the general strike continues to be observed.
But the residents come out at night
Artouz: “why are you afraid? God is with us”
As the cries of Abu Hafiz (Bashar) are herd in the background, security forces and Assad thugs go on rampage destroying cars and windows.
Hammouriyyeh: songs and dance mark the occasion. “No More Fear” says the banner.
Barzeh: Banners “the germs want to topple the regime” “You address the germs not the people”
Barzeh wounded after security opened fire
Al-Hajar Al-Aswad: “we don’t love you, leave us and take your party with you”
Midan: removing a poster of Bashar from the neighborhood
Midan / Hassan Mosque: protesters chant “O people of Damascus, the regime has fallen in Midan”
Zabadani: thousands chant “the people want to topple the regime”
Mocking Al-Assad’s speech, protesters carry a banner saying: “O Germs and Rats of the World, Unite!”, while chanting: “Syria wants freedom”
Zamalka: “leave, leave”
Arbeen: “Down with Bashar”
Harasta: “the people want to topple the regime”
LATAKIA -- Several thousand people demonstrated, shouting "no dialogue with murderers," a resident said.
And that’s the video to prove it
JABLA -- At least 10 people were arrested after a protest in the town center, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Tear gas used to disperse protesters
Heavy security forces and shabbiha presence after their crackdown on Friday’s demonstration
BANIAS -- Heavy security foiled attempts to rally from mosques, said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory, adding that security men and pro-Assad militia outnumbered protesters.
Banias: Assad security everywhere preventing protests from taking place
DERAA -- Over 2,000 people protested around the Omari mosque in the old quarter, with placards reading "No dialogue with the criminal regime." Several people were wounded when security forces fired on hundreds of demonstrators who reached the Yadouba junction on their way to Deraa, witnesses said.
In the nearby Hauran Plain, thousands protested in Nawa, Dael, Sheikh Miskeen, Kherbat Ghazal and Musaifara and Busra towns and villages, rights campaigners in the region said.
Deraa / Deraa City: the cradle of the revolution is still capable of fielding protests despite the continuing crackdown and heavy security presence.
Deraa / Basr Al-Harir: “we want send a message to the [Baath] regional command saying: leave Bashar” Banner says: “leave you child killer”
Deraa / Nawa: army troops open fire at a small protest
Deraa / Al-Hraak: Shabbiha are bussed into this protest city, and they begin celebrating as soon as they get out of their busses shouting “Allah, Syria, Bashar,” and brandishing their weapons. The video was produced by army troops already stationed in the city as we can see at the end of the video.
Deraa / Al-Harrah: “We don’t want Bashar”
Deraa / Bosra
Deraa / Al-Mseifrah: thousands shout “the people want to topple the regime”
Deraa / Dael: snipers on the rooftops
Deraa / Khirbet Ghazali
Deraa / Abtaa: “Leave, leave”
Deraa / Sanamein: “We don’t Bashar”
Deraa / Sheikh Miskeen: “You don’t deserve to lead, not even a clinic (Bashar)”
Thousands of protesters in the mainly Kurdish city of Qamishli demanded the fall of the regime, Kurdish sources said.
Qamishly: “the Syrian people are One”
Hundreds marched in nearby Amouda, with placards reading "Bashar is not my president, the government does not represent me," and "Freedom."
Hassakeh / Amoudeh: “the people want to topple the regime” “Syria is free, Bashar get out”
Hassakeh / Ras Al-Ein
At least 60,000 people marched the city of Deir al-Zor near the Iraqi border, chanting "the people want the downfall of regime," two residents said.
Deir Ezzor City: “Syria is free, Bashar get out”
“The people want to topple the regime”
And the demonstration turns into a vigil
Deir Ezzor / Alboukamal
Deir Ezzor / Al-Qouriyyeh: “Freedom, Freedom”
Deir Ezzor / Al-Mayadeen: “We don’t love you, leave us and take your party with you”
Raqqah: “the people want to topple the regime”