A Syrian man stands beneath a banner of President Bashar al-Assad during a rally in December.
The Arab League and the rest of the international community seem at a loss to prevent rising tension and violence in Syria from driving the country into full-blown civil war. “Stop the violence. Stop killing your people. The path of repression is a dead end,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon pleaded Sunday at a conference in Lebanon.
“Day by day, Syrians are closer to fighting each other,” an activist near Damascus was quoted as saying. “Bashar has divided Syrians into two groups—one with him, one against him—and the coming days will bring more blood into the streets.” —ARK
The New York Times:
The opposition speaks less of prospects for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad and more about a civil war that some argue has already begun, with the government losing control over some regions and its authority ebbing in the suburbs of the capital and parts of major cities like Homs and Hama. Even the capital, Damascus, which had remained calm for months, has been carved up with checkpoints and its residents have been frightened by the sounds of gunfire.
The deepening stalemate underlines the extent to which events are slipping out of control. In a town about a half-hour drive from Damascus, the police station was recently burned down and in retaliation electricity and water were cut off, diplomats say. For a time, residents drew water in buckets from a well. Some people are too afraid to drive major highways at night.