The Syrian govnerment has pledged for comprehensive reforms but has answered with ferocity to growing protests, seen in the latest attack on the city of Hama leaving the city clouded in smoke and rubble, with reports telling of bodies literring the streets.
Up to 80 people have been killed according to BBC reports. Government security forces were sent into Hama, a large site for anti-government protests for over the last month, on orders by President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian anti-government protests, inspired by similar events in Tunisia and Egypt, were sarked by the initial arrest of teenagers for spar-painting revolutionary slogans on a wall. Since then, protests have escalated dramatically and the civilian casualty count has been reported to be as high as 1,700.
Despite the action taken by government forces, the rebels have not yielded in the slightest against the government and reports have stated that protests will on increase in severity with the upcoming holiday of Ramadan. The feeling of persistence and is demonstrated by the shouts, “We will not be killed again”. The reference is to a prior massacre in 1982 by the current President’s father, Hafez al-Assad, who acted against revolts inspired by the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. The causalities of 1982 ranged in the tens of thousands, some reports estimated the deaths to be close to 30,000. With such willpower and aggression filling the hearts of current protesters, the international community can only watch as the developments of the “Arab Spring” have descended from hopeful to tumultuous.
“Hama will be very harsh to them,” said al Habbal, who lives in the city. “The whole city has decided to resist with stones, not weapons. The army will either join the demonstrators or leave our city.”
The reluctance of the protestors to be intimidated by the show of force by President al-Assad has come at high prices but as the US embassy spokesperson, JJ Harder, stated, “the recent assault was a last act of utter desperation”. Though the statement seems rather idealistic considering the increase in tensions and strife throughout the region of Syria, such willpower and outlook has emerged victorious in the past. In 1989, the Iron Curtain crumbled because of anti-Communist protestors and although the majority of those nations did not react militarily, Romania did. The security forces of Nicolae Ceausescu responded with military force, killing numerous civilian protestors, but the protestors were victorious in the end. So saying, the Syrian people have been left without foreign/international assistance but they have continued their fight and the President has felt the pressure, but at how high of a price will it come?
The international community has remained divided on the event sin Syria, none have explicitly called for President Assad to go. At this stage, the movement is up to the Syrians themselves. The anti-government forces have spread to other areas including Homs, Latakia, Jisr al-Shughour, and Baniyas; but they have yet to engulf the two biggest cities of Damascus and Aleppo.