On Informed Comment, Professor Cole makes a summary of the Syrian rebellian and the increase in atrocities by the Assad regime.

The Age of Mass Killing Comes to Syria & France Pushes Gov’t in Exile

In recent months, the uprising in Syria has become bloodier and bloodier. In the beginning, in spring and summer of 2011, the crowds were largely peaceful. The Baath regime of Bashar al-Assad responded by placing snipers on rooftops of tall buildings and having them fire randomly into the protesting crowds. They would kill 5-10 people in each city, to raise the cost of the protests. If they were hoping that this official sniping tactic would tamp down the demonstrations, the Baath security officials were wrong. Sometimes they would pull up tanks and use them as pill-boxes, peppering the crowds with live ammunition. These techniques would kill 50-80 people a day fairly regularly, if you added up deaths in all the small towns and cities.

In response to the regime’s militarization of its repression of civilian protest, Syrians (including defectors from the army to the opposition) began using firearms themselves, against the regime. In order to root out the elements of the Free Syrian Army, which began basing themselves in some city quarters, the regime began last winter heavily bombarding those districts, risking large losses of civilian life in hopes of clearing the area of opposition fighters.

Then in spring, the regime began sending Ghost Brigades into small Sunni towns and villages aligned with the revolt, and committing massacres of men, women and children. The massacre at Houle, which a UN investigation determined had in fact been carried out by pro-regime militias, was a turning point.

… The escalation in the loss of life has impelled some outside countries to a new sense of urgency. French President Francois Hollande announced that he would recognize a government in exile if one were formed by the Syrian revolutionaries. The US declared that approach premature.

More developments below the fold …

Civilians bearing the brunt in the battle for Aleppo

(Amnesty International) – The presence of combatants and military objectives within densely populated urban areas has further heightened the risk of harm to the civilian population. Dozens of armed opposition groups, composed of Syrian army defectors and volunteers, are participating in the fighting in Aleppo. Many are acting under the general banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) but in reality are only loosely connected with the FSA and operate largely independently of the FSA and of each others.

 In addition to the killings of civilians as a result of attacks and armed confrontations in the context of the conflict, there has been an increase in killings of detained civilians and captured combatants.  Bodies of mostly young men, handcuffed and bearing torture marks, are being found every few days dumped on the outskirts of the city, near the headquarters of the Air Force Intelligence.  Amnesty International is alarmed that a pattern of extrajudicial and summary executions by all parties in the conflict appears to be gathering pace.

Saudi Arabia and Qatar ‘supplying weapons’ to anti-Assad forces, while fears mount for civilians

Summary executions and straving civilian population in Aleppo

The opening statement of Ms Nuland: “Happy Monday everybody. Lots of people down here for the down days of August. I have nothing on the top, so let’s go what is on your mind.” No urgency Professor Cole, no immediate calling of UNSC for a condemnation. Between the lines, the opposition forces outside and inside Syria must unite to agree to a code of conduct and how democracy and leadership will look like after Assad’s overthrow.

A gross miscalculation on the part of the US and its allies. Gone are the days of rhetoric the Assad regime will only last a few days. Gone are the UN observers. The Syrian people are on their own and Ms Nuland spoke mainly how to organize humanitarian aid in surrounding countries. No buffer zone inside Syria is contemplated. Even Jordan and Turkey are asking for UN refugee aid. The Syrians suffer, this is not what thepeaceful protesters wanted. In Tripoli, it’s another story as death toll rises.

In the meantime in Iran the Conference of Non-aligned Countries is taking place which includes UN SG Ban Ki-moon and President Morsi of Egypt. Yes, they were warned by the US not to participate. Listen to Admiral Fallon speak on Iran and the anxiety of the Arabian Gulf states [his words] when it became clear the Shiites were the winners in Iraq.

Update [2012-08-28 5:42 EST by Oui]: Sometimes I’m puzzled by Juan Cole, this comment was rejected for publication.
It’s his blog and moderates the comments. I miss the argument why a comment is not allowed.

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