Monday, November 14, 2011

40 killed in first major armed battle in Syria

From Reuters:
At least 40 Syrians were killed in fighting on Monday between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and insurgents in a town near the border with Jordan, local activists said, in the first case of major armed resistance to Assad in the region.

They said troops backed by armour killed 20 people — army defectors, insurgents and civilians — in an assault on Khirbet Ghazaleh in the Hauran Plain, and in fighting that ensued near the town. A similar number of troops were killed, they added.

The troops attacked Khirbet Ghazaleh, 20 km north of the border, on the main highway between Amman and Damascus, after army defectors attacked a security police bus at a highway intersection near the town, the activists said.
Even though everyone is urging the activists to stick to peaceful protests, I don't think Assad would step aside without any military pressure.

Meanwhile, official Syrian news reports that over the weekend Syria staged huge pro-regime rallies to protest the Arab League's censure:

The photos, provided by Syria and showing large rallies in multiple cities, appear to be legit - but it is hard to know for sure. And, of course, there is no way to know what incentives or threats were offered to people to attend.