News / Middle East

Syrian Protests Ripple Across Nation Despite Crackdown

Syrian protesters hold a Syrian flag during a demonstration against President Bashar Al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman. The words on the flag read: "God, Syria, just Freedom," July 21, 2011
Syrian protesters hold a Syrian flag during a demonstration against President Bashar Al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman. The words on the flag read: "God, Syria, just Freedom," July 21, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Al Pessin

Tens of thousands of Syrians continued to protest against their government Friday, in spite of a growing crackdown and the deaths of dozens of people during the past week.  Reports from Syria say security forces killed at least six more people Friday, after five were killed in clashes overnight.

Amateur video distributed by the Associated Press appears to show Syrian protesters fleeing tear gas fired by security forces Friday after midday prayers.

The protesters chant, "The people want the fall of the regime," in the footage reportedly recorded in a mainly Kurdish town on the Turkish border.

VOA's Susan Yackee speaks with a Syrian activist, who prefers to remain anonymous and monitors the situation from here in the U.S:

The AP could not confirm the authenticity of the video, but said it came from a reliable source.

That was just one of many protests Friday in various parts of the country reported by activists and Human Rights groups. Peter Bouckaert is the Emergencies Director for Human Rights Watch in Geneva.

"There was a very extensive deployment of security forces across the country, especially in Aleppo and in the capital, Damascus," said Bouckaert.  "But despite this heavy deployment, protesters have once again gone out all over the country in very large numbers."

Bouckaert says protests were particularly large this week because of anger over dozens of deaths caused by security forces in recent days in the town of Homs. He says the first large-scale night protests were held late Thursday and into Friday morning.

In addition, he reports that hundreds of thousands rallied in the central city of Hama, where security forces have reportedly withdrawn.

"It really does appear that the capacity of the Syrian state to continue this very violent crackdown is stretched to the limit," added Bouckaert.  "And it's uncertain whether they will be able to continue to use this extreme violence against what is still a mostly non-violent protest movement. The regime is running out of options and running out of time."

The Human Rights Watch official says his group and Syrian activists have documented the defection of dozens of soldiers, who he says are not willing to fire on protesters.

But at London's Royal Institute of International Affairs, Syria watcher Nadim Shehadi believes President Bashar al-Assad will continue his crackdown as long as he receives what Shehadi believes are mixed signals from the West.

Shehadi says President Assad believes the now-deposed leaders of Egypt and Tunisia gave in to protesters too quickly during the start of the so-called Arab Spring protests, and he does not want to make the same mistake.

Still, Shehadi says with the right combination of domestic and international pressure, the more than 40-year-long reign of Assad and his father could be brought to an end.

"The regime will crumble much faster than we think," Shehadi  said.  "The structure of it is much weaker than we think.  And the aftermath of the crumbling of the regime is a mystery to everybody."

Analysts say direct Western intervention in Syria is not likely, and after months of protests and crackdowns, they say neither side in the Syrian conflict can see a way out through compromise. They say that probably means more weeks, maybe months, of violence.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid