As Iraq flexes its muscle following the departure of U.S. troops, and as Iran continues to challenge the “international community” relative to its nuclear program, the civil unrest in yet another Middle Eastern country is reaching critical mass and threatens a call for more “Western intervention” in the region.
For nearly a year Syria, which borders Iraq, has been besieged by the same type of uprising that led to the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in nearby Egypt. But while the protests in Syria began on the same day as those in Egypt, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and a major government overhaul, thus far Assad has been able to hold on to power with the violent assistance of his military.
As reported by Reuters News, over the last month hundreds of Syrian citizens have been reported killed as government forces try desperately to crush both peaceful protests and armed resistance to Assad’s rule. In the past week, according to Reuters, “gunfire by pro-Assad militiamen killed five people, including a woman, and wounded nine in the restive city of Homs, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A sniper later shot dead a 16-year-old girl there.”
Apparently, not even government soldiers are solidly behind Assad. So far at least a score of soldiers have defected over to the opposition, and British civil rights monitors reported that five other soldiers were killed as they attempted to change sides during a clash with Assad opponents in the northwestern province of Idlib.
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