Archive for October 11th, 2011

Syrian Town of Resistance Under Siege by Army

By Jasper Fakkert
Jul 4, 2011

Almost 30 years ago, the Syrian military crushed an armed insurrection by the Muslim Brotherhood in the central Syrian city of Hama, resulting in the death of at least 10,000 people. That was under the rule of Hafez al-Assad. Now his son, President Bashar al-Assad, is sending troops to the city once again.

On Monday, al-Assad deployed troops and tanks to the city in response to the week-long anti-government demonstrations in the city.

Last Friday—a day off in the Arab World and traditionally the day large demonstrations take place—saw one of the largest demonstrations of the uprising thus far in Syria. An estimated half a million people took to the streets against al-Assad’s regime. After the demonstrations al-Assad fired the governor of the city.

Troops entered the outer skirts of the city on Monday and made arbitrary arrests of civilians, according to witness statements relayed to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCCS), a network of 15 local committees across Syria. The witnesses also reported hearing gun shots, and said at least some people were killed, but it is unclear how many exactly.

At present, most of the troops remain outside of the city. Large numbers of tanks have been deployed at the city’s main entrances. One informant told the LCCS that at the northern entrance of the city around 50 tanks had been deployed.

“They have surrounded the city. But they cannot enter the city, because the residents have set up barriers to prevent the vehicles and security forces from coming in,” said Hozan Ibrahim, a spokesperson for the LCCS.

Hama has traditionally been one of strongholds of sentiment against the regime. Some fear a repeat of the 1982 Hama massacre.

“The newer generation doesn’t know what happened, they only heard it. They haven’t witnessed the horror their fathers have seen,” said Ibrahim.

While the city is under siege from the army, and prospects are they will advance on the city, demonstrations are continuing just as they have every evening for the past three weeks.

“The whole city is declared against the regime. They have overcome the fears over the past decade,” says Ibrahim.

After more than four decades of authoritarian rule by the Assad family, thousands of Syrians took to the streets in March, emboldened by the successful uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, demanding political reform. The demonstrations soon gave rise to a bona fide popular uprising that has seen hundreds of thousands of people across the country join street demonstrations.

Al-Assad’s regime has responded with a harsh military crackdown, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 1,500 civilians.

Human rights organizations have reported arbitrary arrests and torture throughout the country, in many cases resulting in death. Among the dead are also a large group of minors. It is estimated is at least 80 children have been killed by security forces in the past months.

While Assad has promised political reform and a national dialog, no significant progress has been made. His harsh crackdown has earned him widespread international condemnation with the United States and the European Union imposing sanctions on his regime.

However, there has been no formal condemnation of the violence from the United Nations. China and Russia boycotted a U.N. Security Council meeting on the emergency in Syria and have indicated they will veto any resolution condemning the violence.

Source: The Epoch Times.