“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)


''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."



Heads of governments during the opening session of the African Union summit
on January 30, 2014 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa (AFP, Samuel Gebru)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.
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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hamas leader says administration ready to quit for unity

Antara News, Sat, April 30 2011

Related News

Moscow (ANTARA News/RIA Novosti-OANA) - Hamas leader in power of the Gaza Strip said on Saturday that the movement`s government is ready to resign as part of a Palestinian national reconciliation.

On Wednesday, the rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah reached understanding to set up a transitional government and hold elections. The reconciliation is expected this week.

"I am prepared to tender my resignation as part of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah,`` Ismail Haniya said.

"This agreement is very important and should boost efforts to end the divisions and encourage unity among Palestinians," he added.

According to the agreement, Hamas and Fatah will form a technocratic government to unify national institutions in Gaza and the West Bank and prepare for national elections within a year.

In 2007, Hamas ousted Fatah party and took over Gaza. Since then, the Fatah-led Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has been confined to the West Bank.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Related Articles:

"The New Paradigm of Reality" Part I/II – Feb 12, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Syria arrests women, opposition figures-rights groups

Antara News, Sun, May 1 2011

Related News

Amman (ANTARA News/Reuters) - Syrian security forces on Saturday arrested two veteran opposition figures and a group of female protesters as part of a crackdown on pro-democracy campaigners, rights groups said.

The reports came as the Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah said security forces had killed at least 560 civilians since protests started just over six week ago.

Security agents detained Hassan Abdel Azim, 81, in Damascus, and Omar Qashash, 85, in Aleppo, said the Syrian Centre for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscious.

Other rights campaigners said security forces arrested 11 women who marched in a silent all-women demonstration in the Salhyia district of Damascus on Saturday.

The march was in support of residents of the city of Deraa, where President Bashar al-Assad has sent tanks to crush an uprising against his rule.

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

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Friday, April 29, 2011

US raps Bahrain over speed of trial

Google/AFP, Apr 30, 2011

WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday criticized Bahrain over the speed of a trial in which Shiite pro-democracy protesters were sentenced to death and life in prison for killing two policemen.

State Department Policy Planning Director Jacob Sullivan also said Washington has urged Bahrain at the highest levels to move toward "a comprehensive political dialogue" to end the political unrest.

Sullivan criticized a Bahraini military court over the speed with which it sentenced four Shiite protesters to death and three to life in prison Thursday for the killing of two policemen at a crackdown on a pro-democracy rally.

The trial of the seven began on April 17, with BNA news agency reporting at the time that they were accused of committing voluntary homicide of public officials with "terrorist" intentions.

"We are troubled by the speed with which the trial was conducted and the swiftness of the verdict," Sullivan told reporters.

"And from our perspective, as we've said repeatedly, it's important that legal processes be carried out in a manner that is legitimate, credible and transparent," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and senior State Department officials have argued that "security measures alone are not going to solve the challenges that are posed in Bahrain," he recalled.

"It's critical that all the parties move forward to a comprehensive political dialogue, and this is a message that we're continuing to send as late as within the last 24 hours at high levels in the Bahraini government," he said.

State Department officials said the message was sent by Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, to Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa.

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U.S. slaps sanctions on top Syrian officials

CNN News, by the CNN Wire Staff, April 29, 2011

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • At least 22 more people died Friday in Syria due to the government's crackdown
  • The Obama administration had hoped Assad would prove to be a reformer
  • The U.S. government has imposed new sanctions against Syria
  • The sanctions are in response to the Syrian government's crackdown on protesters

Washington (CNN) -- The U.S. government announced Friday that it has imposed new sanctions against top members and elements of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad responsible for overseeing the recent violent crackdown against protesters.

The new sanctions against top
members of the regime of Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad.
The sanctions -- imposed on Assad's brother, among others -- involve an asset freeze and a prohibition on doing business in the United States.

Mahir al-Assad, a brigade commander in the Syrian Army, has played a key role in the regime's actions in the southern city of Daraa, a flashpoint for the protests.

Syria's intelligence director and a cousin of Assad responsible for security around Daraa were also hit with the sanctions.

"I have determined that the Government of Syria's human rights abuses, including those related to the repression of the people in Syria ... constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," President Barack Obama said in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

The increasingly bloody crackdown orchestrated by Damascus resulted in at least another 22 deaths Friday, witnesses sid.

Jacob Sullivan, the State Department's director of policy planning, told reporters that the individuals targeted by the sanctions are "key decision-makers" and "key perpetrators" in the crackdown. It "does sharpen the choice for the Syrian leadership," he said.

RELATED TOPICS

President Assad himself was not targeted by the sanctions, but "don't think (he's) not on our radar," an administration official told CNN. Don't think "that if these abuses continue we won't act against him."
"We have (the) flexibility to add additional designations," Sullivan stressed.

Last week, the White House released a statement by Obama condemning "in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators."

"This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now," Obama said.

Until Friday, the administration had taken a more muted response to the crackdown in Syria out of fear of destabilizing the Assad regime. Officials have voiced concern about possible sectarian tensions if Assad's Alawite minority government is overthrown, and have expressed little confidence in Syria's fragmented opposition.

Washington has also been under pressure from Israel and allies in the Persian Gulf such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who fear Assad's departure could produce a more radical Syria and encourage further revolutions, officials said.

At the same time, however, a number of U.S. officials and Western diplomats have described Assad's regime as increasingly brittle, and are predicting it may be hard for Assad to survive.

The United States has less leverage in Syria than it does in other countries. The Bush administration already imposed strict sanctions against Damascus in 2004, including a ban on almost all trade between the two countries. It is unclear how effective the new round of sanctions will be.

The administration appears to have ruled out the use of any military force -- a stark contrast to the recent course of action in Libya.

"Syria is a different country (than Libya). It's in a different place," Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said Thursday. "While we certainly abhor the violence and abhor the killing, I think we have to be very mindful of the uniqueness of Syria in both its history, its location, and what the potential is."

Obama administration officials had hoped Assad, unlike his father, would prove to be a reformer. Those hopes now appear to be waning.

"We are worried he is dropping all pretenses of reform and carrots and sticks, and is going to go out hard with all sticks," one official said recently. "We are expecting him to increase the crackdown."

CNN's Jill Dougherty, Elise Labott, Adam Levine and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Civilian deaths in Syria protests rise to 500-group

Antara News, Fri, April 29 2011

Related News

Amman (ANTARA News/Reuters) - Syrian security forces have killed at least 500 civilians in a crackdown on a "peaceful democratic uprising", Syrian human rights organisation Sawasiah said on Thursday.

Sawasiah, founded by jailed Syrian human rights lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, also said thousands of Syrians have been arrested and scores have gone missing after demonstrations demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption began almost six weeks ago.

"We call on civilised governments to take action to stop the bloodbath in Syria and to reign in the Syrian regime and halt its murders, torture, sieges and arrests. We have the names of at least 500 confirmed killed," Sawasiah said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"The regime continues its organised campaign of killings against its own people with impunity. The shelling of Deraa is a crime against humanity," the statement said, referring to the army using tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where the protests began.

Editor: B Kunto Wibisono

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Four Bahrain protesters sentenced to death

BBC News, 28 April 2011

Bahrain Protests

A court in Bahrain has convicted four demonstrators and sentenced them to death over the killing of two police officers during pro-democracy protests.

Bahrain has clamped down harshly on pro-democracy
protests, which it accuses Iran of fomenting
Three others were sentenced to life in prison.

Bahraini authorities have responded harshly to protests which began in February, following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Hundreds of people have been detained for taking part in protests, many unable to communicate with family.

The seven defendants were reportedly tried behind closed doors on charges of premeditated murder of government employees - allegedly running two police officers over in a car.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges, reports said.

The trial was the first publicly announced since the Gulf state was put under martial law in mid-March.

Bahrain blames Iran for fomenting the protests, but analysts point to long-simmering tensions between the ruling Sunni minority and Shia majority.


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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas 'agree to end rift'

BBC News, 27 April 2011

The Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, which governs Gaza, have agreed a reconciliation deal, officials say.

Hamas and Fatah have been bitterly divided
for more than four years
Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, an interim government will be formed and a date fixed for elections.

The factions have been divided for more than four years, with Hamas in power in Gaza and Fatah running the West Bank.

Palestinian and Egyptian spokesmen told news agencies of the deal but a formal announcement has not yet been made.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza this month, calling for reconciliation.

The protests were inspired by uprisings elsewhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

The split between the two groups occurred when violence erupted a year after Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006.

Tahir al-Nounou, a Hamas government spokesman who was at the meeting in the Egyptian capital Cairo, where the deal was hammered out, told the BBC: "Hamas and Fatah have signed in principle a reconciliation deal in Cairo.

"The final signing will be in a week from now. Cairo will invite Mahmoud Abbas and [Hamas leader] Khalid Meshaal, and representatives from all Palestinian factions, to attend the signing."

Mr Nounou said all disagreements had been overcome.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Cairo says that if the deal goes ahead, it will end five years of bitter hostility between the two sides and remove a significant barrier to the Palestinian campaign for statehood.

But he says there are many difficult issues to resolve - such as how the two factions will share security, how Gaza and the West Bank, separated by Israeli territory, will be governed, and whether the international donors will be willing to recognise Hamas.


Related Articles:

Palestinians protest for Hamas-Fatah unity

"The New Paradigm of Reality" Part I/II – Feb 12, 2011 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

Malawi 'expels UK envoy Cochrane-Dyet' for leaked cable

BBC News, 27 April 2011

Related Stories

Malawi has reportedly ordered the UK's High Commissioner to leave the country after he was quoted in a leaked cable as saying the president does not tolerate criticism.

President Bingu wa Mutharika
was first elected in 2004
A British diplomat warned of "serious consequences" over Fergus Cochrane-Dyet's expulsion, according to an internal memo seen by the BBC.

Some 40% of Malawi's budget comes from abroad; the UK is the largest donor.

No Malawian officials were available to comment on the reported expulsion.

According to the diplomatic cable published by the local Weekend Nation newspaper last week, Mr Cochrane-Dyet described Malawi's President Bingu wa Mutharika as "becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism".

He said local civil society activists were afraid after a campaign of threatening phone calls.

"I am sorry to pass on the news that the Malawi Government have officially informed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office today [Tuesday] that Fergus is being declared persona non grata," reads the memo signed by British High Commission Vice-Consul Lindsay McConaghy.

In the memo, Foreign Affairs Minister Etta Banda was quoted as telling Mr Cochrane-Dyet that "Malawi has lost confidence in you".

Malawi government spokesman Vuwa Kaunda told the BBC's Raphael Tenthani in Blantyre that the issue was "highly sensitive".

Ms McConaghy said no Malawian government representative would be invited to the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II's official birthday.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with an estimated 75% of the population living on less than $1 (60p) a day, Mr Cochrane-Dyet was quoted as saying.


Related Article:

West seeks urgent action on Syria

Deutsche Welle, Apr 27, 2011

The brutal crackdown on anti-regime
protesters is continuing
As the violence in Syria against anti-government protesters continues, the West is struggling to find a common position. European countries have proposed a draft resolution strongly condemning the brutal crackdown.

Following inconclusive talks on Tuesday, the UN Security Council is due to come together again on Wednesday to debate a draft resolution proposed by France, Germany, Britain and Portugal condemning the violence in Syria.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was watching events in Syria "with increasingly grave concern."

"I condemn, utterly, the continuing violence against peaceful demonstrators, most particularly the use of tanks and live fire that killed and injured hundreds of people," he said.

However there appeared to be little consensus among Security Council members on how to proceed. Diplomats said Russia was not in favor of a strong condemnation, while China would also seek a "political solution."

The proposed draft also calls for a full independent investigation of the brutal crackdown against anti-government protesters, however Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari rejected any outside interference. "We will undertake any investigation by ourselves, with full transparency. We have nothing to hide," he told reporters.

Stark warnings

Germany's UN ambassador, Peter Wittig, described the events in Syria as "disturbing" and said they required Security Council attention. He also warned of "repercussions" in the rest of the Middle East if the crisis wasn't tackled.

The US had earlier threatened to tighten sanctions against the Syrian regime and accused Iran of supporting the government's crackdown.

"Instead of listening to his own people, [Syrian President] Assad is disingenuously blaming outsiders while at the same time seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by the Iranian regime," US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice told reporters.

Rights groups say at least 400 people have been killed by security forces since the unrest began last month.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad last week signed off on legislation ending over 40 years of emergency rule in an apparent concession to anti-regime protesters. However the opposition dismissed the move as mere window dressing and said other demands such as more political freedom and the release of political prisoners had been ignored.

Author: Rob Mudge (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Jordan king creates panel to review constitution

Google/AFP, Apr 26, 2011

AMMAN — Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday asked a former prime minister to head a committee to review the constitution and consider amendments, in a bid to face growing demands for reforms.

Jordan's King Abdullah II asked a
former prime minister to head
a committee to review the
constitution
The king asked Ahmad Lawzi and the 10-member committee, which includes other former premiers, to "look into constitutional amendments that would be suitable for Jordan in the present and future," said the state-run Petra news agency.

"The panel should consider recommendations on constitutional amendments related to the electoral and parties' laws," he said in a letter sent to Lawzi.

King Abdullah said the committee "should do its utmost to constitutionally develop political life and help institute balance between state powers.

"Our dear people pin high hopes on the committee to come up with a comprehensive and reformist vision about the constitution," the monarch said.

Jordan has been the scene of protests calling for political and economic reforms as well as the stamping out of corruption.

The powerful Islamist movement and other opposition groups have been demanding sweeping reforms, including a new electoral law that would lead to a parliamentary government and elected prime minister rather than appointed by the king.

Also, leftists and others have called for scrapping of amendments to the 1952 constitution, which was promulgated by King Abdullah's grandfather, King Talal.

The document already has been amended 29 times, giving greater power to the monarch and weakening the legislature, experts say.

'Assad rules Syria like a Pharaoh'

RNW, 26 April 2011, by Klaas den Tek

Rotterdam filmmaker Rosh Abdelfatah has created a special Facebook page for his Syrian compatriots. He posts videos from Syria on YouTube to support the opposition in his native country.

(Photo: RNW/Klaas den Tek)
Abdelfattah’s eyes are glued to the computer screen. He receives a continuous stream of messages from Syria on his Facebook page. On the internet at least, the opposition has freed itself from the iron grip of the regime.

Arbitrary rule

Rosh Abdelfatah (29) is a Syrian of Kurdish descent. He formed part of an amateur theatrical company and wrote plays. He was eventually arrested but escaped to the Netherlands in 1999.

“You are alive, but you don’t exist. In Syria it is illegal to say you are a Kurd. Or to speak your own language. My existence was not acknowledged, I was an illegal alien in my own country.”

Rosh Abdelfatah says Syria is in the grip of a violent and arbitrary rule. Not just for the Kurds, but for all citizens. People are thrown in jail for years and then suddenly released because they are innocent. For instance because the shops they allegedly held up were actually robbed by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. Abdelfatah’s uncle was beaten up by the security service because his tractor did not get out of the way fast enough.

Tanks and snipers

For weeks, Syrians have been taking to the streets to demonstrate against the Assad regime, which has deployed tanks and snipers to suppress the protests. Hundreds of people have been killed in the crackdown so far.

Abdelfatah has been gathering evidence of the violence that has been inflicted upon the protesters by the regime since the demonstrations first started in March. He also posts videos about corruption in education and law enforcement. Abdelfatah is conflicted about not being in Syria now.

“It is difficult. I’m here in Rotterdam, but would prefer being among the young people. On the other hand, you also need people here to give voice to the protesters. Somebody’s got to do it.”

Dreams

So far, the regime in Damascus appears to be solidly in control. The Syrian government has ignored new sanctions announced by European countries and the United States. President Assad will not budge.

"And yet I’m hopeful. I’m convinced the regime will fall quickly. The repression, the one party system, a president ruling like a Pharaoh: Things just cannot continue like this.”

Rosh Abdelfatah is currently involved in establishing a European Syrian centre. A place where artists and dissident scan show what exactly is going on in Syria. A place where people where people can start dreaming about a Syria without Assad.


Related Article:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Syria's crackdown on protesters becomes dramatically more brutal

Tanks and troops enter towns and villages for the first time as scores of people are reportedly killed across Syria

guardian.co.uk, Katherine Marsh in Damascus, Matthew Taylor and Haroon Siddique, Monday 25 April 2011

A Syrian woman, who has relatives in Deraa, gestures at the Jordanian
side of the closed border with Syria. Photograph: Majed Jaber/Reuters


The Syrian government's brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations has escalated dramatically, with tanks rolling on to the streets for the first time and troops reported to have opened fire in several towns and villages across the country.

Scores were reportedly killed and many more arrested in a widespread pre-emptive crackdown that was described by one human rights activist as a "savage war" against the pro-democracy movement.

The southern town of Deraa, which has been a centre of the rebellion, bore the brunt of the regime's assault. Witnesses said at least 3,000 troops, backed by tanks and heavy weapons, entered the town in the early hours of Monday.

Soldiers were said to have opened fire at random, with snipers firing from rooftops and men armed with guns and knives conducting house-to-house searches. Although these reports have not been verified, videos posted online appear to support the claims of witnesses.

The violence drew condemnation from the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, and the US government warned that it was considering imposing sanctions.

"The government has an international legal obligation to protect peaceful demonstrators and the right to peaceful protest," said Pillay. "The first step now is to immediately halt the use of violence, then to conduct a full and independent investigation into the killings, including the alleged killing of military and security officers, and to bring the perpetrators to justice."

The White House condemned the violence as deplorable and confirmed that it was considering "targeted sanctions" against the Assad regime.

The Foreign Office said it would not be drawn into speculation over sanctions, adding: "We're continuing to work with the EU, UN and partners."

More than 350 people have been killed since unrest began in Syria five weeks ago.

Human rights organisations warned that this latest crackdown signalled an attempt by the regime to deliver a fatal blow to the pro-democracy movement. Syria dismissed that claim, insisting the action was a response to what it called an Islamist-inspired uprising.

"We need international intervention, we need countries to help us," said one resident in Deraa, who added that he had seen five corpses after security forces opened fire on a car.

Another witness told Associated Press that people in the town were using mosque loudspeakers to summon doctors to help the wounded, as busloads of security forces and troops made house-to-house searches, causing panic in the streets.

"They are entering houses, they are searching the houses," he said. "They are carrying knives and guns."

Abu Qasim, a resident of Deraa, told al-Jazeera English by phone: "They [the troops] came in from four sides … Heavy artillery pounded the city. They used tanks to kill us. We call on you to help us and call on God first of all to help us … Senior figures in the Syrian military are leading the military campaign against Deraa."

Mobile and landline phone connections in Deraa have been down since Sunday and the nearby border crossing with Jordan was reported to have been closed. A Jordanian official told Reuters: "The timing is related to what appears to be a major security operation that is taking place right now."

Suhair al-Atassi, a leading Syrian human rights campaigner, said: "This is a savage war designed to annihilate Syria's democrats. President Bashar al-Assad's intentions have been clear since he came out publicly saying he was prepared for war in his speech on 30 March."

The crackdown on Deraa was replicated in towns and cities across Syria. On Sunday, troops loyal to the regime entered the coastal town of Jableh, close to Assad's homeland.

Security forces backed by tanks shot randomly at people after prayers, a witness said. "It was quiet, peaceful, there was no demonstration, and then the security forces and Shabiha [a Shia militia group] started to fire at people, at shops, at children, at anyone," a frantic shopkeeper told the Guardian on Sunday afternoon.

Adding that people were now trying to hide inside buildings, he said: "We don't yet know how many are dead and injured but we are scared, very scared. We are peaceful, every area of the town is peaceful, we did not provoke this." Wissam Tarif, the executive director of the human rights organisation Insan confirmed that there had been at least 13 deaths in Jableh, although he said he had not been able to contact anyone in the town since Sunday.

Further assaults were reported in a ring of villages and towns in the rural area around Damascus. Douma, Daraya and Moadamiya were caught up in the violence. In the nearby town of Saqba, a human rights monitor said that people were being loaded into the back of army trucks and taken away.

In Moadamiya, pleas for help were ringing out from the mosques and there were reports that Kisweh, another town near Damascus, was being surrounded by tanks on Monday afternoon.

Activists have also reported that Daraya, another small town in the rural band around the capital, was being closed off on Monday evening.

Radwan Ziadeh, a US human rights activist in the town, said: "I heard there were checkpoints but the tanks were two kilometres from Daraya, near to Moadamiya. But I am now hearing that the internet is cut and that the roads are being closed."

There were also unconfirmed reports of security forces firing at people in towns close to Bosra, a tourist city with a Roman amphitheatre close to the border with Jordan.

A member of the Union of Democratic (Kurdish) Youth said Aleppo, Syria's second city, in the west of the country, had been quiet, but that some groups were trying to start protests. "There is a very, very, extensive security and intelligence presence everywhere in Aleppo and they crack down on any protest as soon as it starts," he said.

As the brutality of the crackdown increased, there were reports of some small-scale defections within the Syrian army. In Deraa, a battalion commander was reported to have clashed with other sections of the security forces as he tried to protect wounded civilians. A Syrian activist, Malath Aumran, said the commander was later arrested.

However, analysts said it was unlikely that the higher echelons of the army, which are dominated by Assad loyalists drawn mainly from the president's Alawite sect, would turn against the regime.

"The system is too strong to collapse easily," said one political analyst, who asked for anonymity. "The 4th battalion is effectively a private army which strikes fear into Syrians. The rest of the army is conscripts, some of whom may defect. But how many of them will dare to say no when the commander is a member of the regime?"

In Damascus, Syrian activists watched the latest crackdown with dismay and outrage. "They believe they can finish it once and for all," said one, who also asked to remain anonymous. "It is unbearable."

Katherine Marsh is the pseudonym of a journalist working in Syria.


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