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Syrian Troops Continue Crackdown on Protesters
June 15, 2011

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The Syrian government continues to mean business, sending troops and tanks into the country's largest cities and smallest villages, in search of demonstrations against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

The opposition has stated a figure of 1,400 as the number of people who died during the crackdown, which began a few months ago, in the wake of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The number of people detained by the government is thought to be about 10,000.

Waves of protesters have fled across the border into Turkey, fearful of remaining in the face of the military response to calls for Assad's removal. Other people — among them a couple thousand high-paid workers such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, and pharmacists — have stubbornly refused to leave the streets. The numbers of the middle and higher class are relatively small, though, leaving the protests mostly to the underprivileged.

For his part, Assad has offered reforms but has refused to abandon the post that his family has had for 40 years. Assad succeeded his father, Hafez, 11 years ago. Assad has also ordered troops into the centers of resistance in order to try to prevent the kind of base that Libya's rebels have, headquartered in Benghazi but spreading out through most of the eastern part of Libya. One such "trouble" spot has been Maarat al-Numaan, a historic city that witnessed a Crusader massacre and, more recently, a crackdown by Hafez Assad.

Western leaders have roundly condemned the Syrian crackdown with angry words but not with sanctions or airstrikes or any kind of intervention.



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