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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Death toll in Syria up to 136 today, rumors about who is in control (update)

From Al Arabiya:
Syrian forces killed at least 136 civilians and wounded hundreds in major tank assaults on Hama and other cities that began at dawn on Sunday to crush pro-democracy demonstrations, activists said.

“The army and security forces launched an attack on Hama and opened fire on civilians, killing 95 people,” Ammar Qorabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights, told AFP earlier.

He said that elsewhere, “19 people were killed in Deir Ezzor in the east, six more died in Harak in the south and one in Al Bukamal,” also in the east.

Several observers wondered if Mr. Assad was truly in charge of the situation. Some suggested that his brother, Maher, may be leading the assault against pro-democracy protesters. Maher Assad is known for his personal brutality and intolerance of dissent.

Reports have suggested that President Assad’s immediate family is in London, including his wife Asma. Mrs. Assad is particularly popular throughout Syria and internationally because of her humanitarian concerns, social work – and her great beauty.

While speculation increased Sunday afternoon about her husband’s whereabouts and whether he was still in control of Syria, world condemnation of the Syrian brutality slowly started.

The Obama Administration did not directly issue a condemnation from Washington. But a US embassy official in Damascus said on Sunday Syrian authorities had launched a war against their own people by attacking the city of Hama to try to crush pro-democracy demonstrations.

“It is desperate. The authorities think that somehow they can prolong their existence by engaging in full armed warfare on their own citizens,” Press Attache J. J. Harder told Reuters by phone. He described the official Syrian account of the violence as “nonsense.”
If the Assad family knows anything, it is how to hold onto power. I would not bet against Bashir yet.

Germany issued a  real condemnation of the Syrian regime.

UPDATE: President Obama said he is "appalled" at the brutality.