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In the News
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27-10-2011

The Syrian Revolution

This week, protestors in Homs, Daraa and Idlib provinces implemented sweeping strikes on the intensification of security crackdowns against members of the Syrian opposition. The death of former Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi last Friday left many in Syria feeling emboldened to continue taking to the streets. At the same time, the spate of violent attacks against Syrian security and military forces by armed elements of the opposition continued, resulting in a substantial increase in fatalities among government forces. On Monday, the US State Department called back US Ambassador Ford amid concerns of "credible threats to his security". Two days later, senior officials from the Arab League arrived in Damascus to hold talks on ways to bring an end to the crisis that has overtaken Syria for the last 33 weeks. 

In the News
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21-10-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Violence deepened markedly in Syria this week, with clashes between the Syrian armed forces and its defectors igniting in Homs, Daraa, Idlib and Deir ez-Zor. Aiming for a semblance of relevance to Syria's growing woes, the Arab League issued a deadline on October 16 giving the Syrian government 15 days to implement a ceasefire - lest its membership be suspended. The following day, however, ushered in some of the worst violence the country has seen since March 15 - with well over 40 people killed in clashes in a number of locations. At the same time, cross-border raids by Syrian security forces moving into Lebanon and a spate of violent attacks by armed elements of the opposition, are steadily eroding any lingering hopes that Syria's troubles will be resolved in the absence of protracted conflict - and within the country's own borders.

In the News
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14-10-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Syria's security crisis intensified this week with clashes between the military and army defectors reported in Idlib, Homs and the southern province of Daraa. Security crackdowns against unarmed elements of the opposition were also reported in numerous cities and towns, including the capital Damascus. In total, over 60 people were killed in the last seven days of violence. Nevertheless, in a statement during official meetings on October 12, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad charged that "Syria has been able to overcome the hardest stage" of the country's recent tumult, "thanks to its people's awareness". Meanwhile, officials from both Russia and China stepped forward this week to urge the Syrian government to push forward with still unimplemented comprehensive reforms. 

In the News
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07-10-2011

The Syrian Revolution

In the face of growing international and local concerns of Syria's potential slide into civil war, the Syrian National Council announced its official formation on Sunday October 2 in Istanbul, Turkey. With a broad base of support across the country's disparate opposition groups, the Council's formation marks a key development in the Syrian revolution, giving members of the opposition a representative body and the international community an official organization with which to meet. At the same time, hopes for a powerful international response to the violence that has shaken the country for almost seven months were severely dashed on Tuesday October 4, when Russia and China stepped forward to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution against Syria. 

In the News
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29-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution 

The outbreak of armed conflict in Homs between Syrian security forces and armed members of the opposition on Monday September 26, marks the first large-scale battle between the opposition and the government since the start of the Syrian revolution over six months ago. While the opposition has not officially announced its intent to take up arms and many argue fervently against such a move, the momentum unleashed by the opposition's use of violence will be difficult to control. This development threatens to push the country into the throes of civil war whilst also fueling the government's claim that it is fighting armed groups, not unarmed civilians. Nonviolent opposition rarely succeeds in the face of security forces willing to take up arms against civilians, however, thus rendering alternatives to insurrection increasingly unacceptable to those confronting violent security crackdowns out on the streets. 
In the News
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23-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution
On September 18, the Syrian opposition held a crucial six-hour meeting in Syria, bringing young protest organizers and demonstrators together with well-known older generations of dissidents. While meeting participants called upon Syrians to continue protesting in peace, international reportage from around the week suggested that the numbers of protestors out on the streets are dwindling while those still willing to fight for the cause, are increasingly taking up arms. At the same time, rights groups Avaaz and Insan released a report indicating that the death toll from the unrest could be as high as 5,360 - not the 3,004 reported just a week earlier.

In the News
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15-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Thursday September 15 marks the start of the sixth month of the Syrian revolution. The preceding 183 days of social upheaval and corresponding security crackdowns have resulted in the deaths of over 3,000 Syrians - with some 113 killed last week alone. Since the uprising began on March 15, 112 Syrian cities and villages have seen deaths amid security crackdowns, over 80 children have been killed in related security incursions, and over 95 adults have reportedly died whilst under torture in Syrian prisons. Activists and foreign officials estimate that more than 15,000 have been imprisoned, several thousand of whom were effectively 'disappeared'.

In the News
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08-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Violence across the country took a marked turn for the worse this week, with over 80 people killed in security crackdowns and violent attacks across the country in just seven days. International reportage suggests a shift in the violence, perhaps moving beyond security crackdowns by government forces to include a spike in violent attacks against members of the military and security forces. The continued media blackout leaves the nature and scope of the violence a challenge to ascertain. At the same time, the EU moved forward with the implementation of its oil embargo against Syrian crude on Saturday, the French Foreign Minister termed the actions of the Syrian government as "crimes against humanity," and US Ambassador Ford issued another Facebook note stating that, "given the extent of the government’s brutality, neither the Syrian protest movement nor the international community will believe that this Syrian leadership desires or is capable of the deep, genuine and credible reforms that the Syrian people demand."  

In the News
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01-09-2011

The Syrian Revolution

Ramadan came to an end this week with activists charging that some 473 people were killed amid security crackdowns during the 29 days that spanned the holy month. 360 civilians and 113 members of Syrian security forces were among the dead. Though the violence that shook the month was anticipated by many who predicted that daily antigovernment protests would be met with fierce suppression by security forces, those who expected the protests and violence to bring about the collapse of the government have instead found that the standoff between the opposition and the Syrian government remains strong. Deepening US and EU sanctions and the growing prospect of a European oil embargo against Syrian crude - which will undoubtedly destroy the last vestiges of the Syrian economy - likewise suggest that while the international community rallies against the Syrian government, the Syrian people will continue to pay the price for official decisions made at home - and abroad. 

In the News
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25-08-2011

The Syrian Revolution

On Thursday August 18, the US and its European allies Britain, France, Germany and the European Union, called upon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to "step aside" for "the sake of the Syrian people". Days later, the United Nations Human Rights Council issued a resolution in condemnation of the Syrian government's "grave" human rights violations and called for the immediate dispatch of an independent international commission of inquiry. The US and EU also imposed further sanctions against key Syrian officials last week as President Assad gave his fourth public statement since the start of the unrest, shunning the opportunity to announce new political reforms. Meanwhile, over 350 people have died amid security crackdowns since the start of Ramadan on August 1 and international commentary on the Syrian crisis is edging toward broad scale concurrence: in the absence of the implementation of profound, systemic reform, the Syrian government is unlikely to weather the revolution intact.