One day after firing the governor of Hama, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ordered another crackdown in the city, a hotbed of opposition. Army troops backed by tanks and other heavily fortified vehicles roamed the city, arresting dozens of people suspected of fomenting disquiet.
Hama was the scene of a massive protest, with 500,000 people hitting the streets to call for more freedom. In response, Assad fired the governor, Ahmad Khaled Abdulaziz, but the action was likely to carry little weight with protesters, who want nothing less than the removal of Assad, who in recent weeks has been following more and more in the footsteps of his famous father, who was known for crackdowns on dissent. In 1982, government troops stormed into Hama, resulting in 10,000 deaths and the devastation of a significant part of the city.
It isn't just Hama, either. Protests featuring large numbers of people have taken place in many of the country's larger cities, and opposition leaders are becoming more and more coordinated in their language and their actions. Thus it is that troops have been deployed in many cities. Assad has fired the governors of other cities as well, again in apparent deference to the large numbers of people protesting in the streets. Particularly large protests have been seen in recent days in Damascus and Aleppo, the country's two largest cities. Human rights groups have asserted than more than 1,300 civilians have been killed.
At the same time, thousands of people have fled the crackdowns, swelling the border area with Turkey and, in many cases, entering Turkey completely.
In a related development, Switzerland announced that it was freezing 27 million francs ($31.8 million) of assets from the reach of Assad's regime.