39 Killed as Tanks Attack Southern Syria Protest Hub

Scores Wounded in Latest Crackdown

by Jason Ditz, April 25, 2011

Eyewitnesses say that at least 39 people were killed and 70 others wounded on Monday in the southern city of Daraa. The latest deaths came after a violent three day weekend of crackdowns starting with the “Good Friday Massacre.”

Though the death toll was a far cry from the 100+ slain on Friday, today’s offensive in Daraa took the crackdown to a new level, with the regime deploying tanks into the key border city. Daraa was the city where protests began over five weeks ago.

The use of tanks against protesters has been comparatively rare across the Middle East, with only a handful of incidents in places like Bahrain and Libya. This suggests that the Assad regime is moving into the stage where shows of force are its last weapon against dissent.

At the same time, such shows of strength have been ineffective for the regime so far. Every Friday protest has been met with a violent crackdown, and the following Friday has seen protests dramatically bigger than the last. The use of such tactics seems to have convinced many opposition figures that they have little to lose in rebelling more openly.

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