Items About Areas That Could Break Out Into War
June 8, 2011: It appears that most of the 300,000 man Syrian army (as well as most of the 100,000 police and other security troops) is now considered actually, or potentially, unreliable. The secret police (about 50,000 full-timers on the payroll, and about as many reliable part-timers and gangsters-for-hire) are the major reason for this. The troops have been told that all the protestors are Islamic radicals (who are not very popular these days, because of all the Islamic radical violence in Iraq), but time-and-again find that there are no religious radicals, only people like them calling for freedom, jobs and reforms. The secret police and loyal troops kill the people, and this drives more and more troops to join the rebels.
Three months of growing violence have left over 1,300 dead, and over 10,000 wounded and/or arrested. An increasing number of people are fleeing the country. Worse, for the government, is that all this violence is not stopping the demonstrations. On the contrary, there are more, and larger, demonstrations every week. President Bashir Assad is said to prefer more reforms and concessions. His brother Maher (who controls most of the loyal troops) and many other hard-liners believe the only solution is force, applied quickly and on a massive scale. This is about to happen, unless there is a rapid spread of the mutiny in the security forces. The government is particularly unpopular because of the growing use of thugs (gangsters loyal to the government, or at least their paymaster) to kill and terrorize civilians. This is a favorite technique throughout the world. Dictators need to terrorize their subjects and terror is something gangsters practice all the time.
Civilians, and rebel soldiers, are fleeing the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour. Hundreds have crossed the border into Turkey. Hundreds of civilians and mutinous soldiers have been killed there in the last few days. The government had been using helicopter gunships and artillery. The town appears to be empty, with most residents gone or hiding.
June 6, 2011: The government complained that 120 troops and (secret) police were killed over the weekend in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour, and that more troops were being sent to deal with the "gangsters" responsible. Locals report that the deaths were caused by rebel soldiers, and that loyal units of the Republican Guard, along with more secret police, were being sent to crush the rebellion.
In one of the many refugee camps, Palestinians fought each other, leaving 14 dead and 70 wounded. The violence was the result of Palestinians attacking militants believed responsible for forcing Palestinians to try and cross the Israeli border yesterday, and getting killed or wounded. Many Palestinians believe that the border event was purely to help the Syrian government hang on to power, not to help Palestinians. The border with Israel is again being guarded by Syrian border police, who stop anyone trying to get close.
June 5, 2011: About a thousand "Palestinians" assembled on the Syrian border in the Golan Heights and were allowed past the Syrian border crossings and attempted to enter Israel. This was to be a non-violent demonstration to commemorate the 1967 war, which is seen as a great catastrophe by Arabs. Once in Israeli territory, Israeli troops opened fire, aiming for the legs. Syria claimed that 24 people were killed and 340 injured. Israel claimed that there were few deaths, and less than a hundred injured. Eventually, the demonstrators retreated back into Syria, taking the dead and wounded with them. All this went on for over five hours, with the demonstrators (most of whom could be seen arriving on what appeared to be government supplied trucks and busses) spending most of their time milling about on the Syrian side of the border, arguing among themselves or, perhaps, their "handlers." Other governments with Israeli borders did not allow such demonstrations, since the Israelis made it clear that they would not allow anyone to get across the border without permission. The Syrian government was accused, by opposition groups, of staging the "Palestinian demonstration." The government was said to have recruited Palestinians and poor farmers, with offers of $1,000 each if they joined the march, and $10,000 each if they were killed, and free medical care if they were injured. Syrian border guards were seen directing the demonstrators, not trying to stop them from marching into Israeli gunfire. Meanwhile over 60 anti-government demonstrators were killed elsewhere in Syria as several towns and cities saw protest activity, and Syrian troops and police often opened fire. Syrian opposition groups believe their government staged the bloody protest on the Israeli border to distract media from all the Syrian demonstrators being killed by their own government.
The government restored Internet access, after cutting it for nearly 24 hours. The government has been trying to use the Internet to get their own propaganda out, so access has not been cut for long periods. The government is also a big user of the Internet, and cutting access to the entire nation just makes the government more unpopular. Moreover, enough people have access to satellite phones that embarrassing photos and videos can still get out of the country anyway. Meanwhile, the rebels (it's no longer just a matter of demanding reforms) have been using the Internet to rally, and coordinate, demonstrations and, increasingly, military operations.
June 3, 2011: In the northern town of Hama, soldiers and police fired on a huge (over 50,000 people) demonstration, causing hundreds of casualties. Hama was the scene of a 1982 uprising, that was put down at the cost of over 10,000 dead civilians. In Syria, this did not, officially, happen. But everyone knows about it, especially those in Hama and surrounding areas. Friday is the day for large demonstrations, as it is the Moslem holy day and when large numbers of people assemble at mosques.
June 1, 2011: President Bashir Assad declared an amnesty and freed hundreds of political prisoners. Most of these men promptly joined the growing number of demonstrators.
May 31, 2011: A growing number of protestors are bringing guns to demonstrations. When the secret police fire on the crowds, they receive return fire.