As defections turn into full-fledged mutinies in Deir Ezzor, Homs and elsewhere, Assad security forces go about business as usual in Damascus and Aleppo, arresting, killing and making people disappear. Still the protesters are unfazed.
A crackdown on protesters in Deir Ezzor City initiated by the newly appointed Governor led to the death of one protester, and the arrest of dozens. But rather than feel intimidated, thousands of local residents marched to the governor’s mansion demanding his departure. A scuffle with security officers in the area led to several more fatalities among the protesters at which point, army troops belonging to the 7th armored regimen interfered to protect the unarmed protesters, clashing with the security forces and pro-Assad militias.
Beyond this, it’s proven difficult to get any clarity on the exact goings-on in Deir Ezzor, but we have reports claiming that the new Governor and his security chief, the infamous Jamea Al-Jamea, one of the suspects in the assassination of Lebanese PM Rafic Al-Hariri, have been killed, that over 5,000 troops belonging to the 7th armored regiments have taken over the local military airport, that pro-Assad militias are roaming some streets in pickup trucks mounted with guns occasionally clashing with army troops, and that the City has thus become a virtual war zone.
Coupled with reports of defection in Homs, Idlib and Deraa, the development comes as quite the prelude to the month of Ramadan. Could this mark the final unraveling of the Assad regime?