Bashar Assad has launched all-out war on his people. Tanks firing artillery, APCs, infantry units, commandoes and snipers were deployed for the first time at daybreak Monday, April 25 in cities across Syria for the most brutal assault on any Arab anti-government protest in the four-month uprising.
In the first few hours, hundreds are estimated to have been massacred (over and above the 350 shot dead in the last three days) and thousands injured. Denied medical attention, they are left in the streets to die.
debkafile's military sources report that protest centers in cities with populations of 2-3 million have been stormed by Syrian troops backed by tanks firing automatic 120-mm guns at random, commandoes dropped by helicopter and snipers.
The military offensive to break the back of the uprising (which debkafile Saturday, April 23 first disclosed Assad had decided to launch) is led by his younger brother Maher Assad at the head of the Republican Guard and the 4th Division which is made up mostly of the Assad's Alawite clan. Its first target Sunday night was the southern town of Deraa where the protest movement began and the Mediterranean coastal town of Jableh.
Monday, Syria shut its land borders to Jordan to conceal the scale of the carnage inflicted on the border town of Deraa from outside eyes. Foreign correspondents have been banned from the country since the uprising began.
Monday, indiscriminate fire was also reported in Duma, a dissident suburb of the capital Damascus. By Monday afternoon, thousands of soldiers had spread out across the North, South and Center of the country, apparently preparing to storm the large cities and protest centers of Hama, Homs, Latakiya and the Kurdish north.
While times may have changed, Bashar is his father's son. In 1982, President Hafez Assad turned his artillery on a district of Hama and slaughtered 25-30,000 civilians to smash a Muslim Brotherhood revolt. The operation was commanded by Rifat Assad, Bashar's uncle, today an opposition leader in exile.
The incumbent president's killing fields extend not to one but to a score of Syrian cities with unimaginable consequences.
And yet no Western power is rushing to help the pro-democracy protesters of Syria who are dying in their hundreds day by day. And the verbal condemnations coming from Washington and European capitals are soon buried under layers of inaction.