The Assad government’s confidence that the crackdown had mostly defused the pro-democracy protests across the nation appears to have been premature, as large numbers of demonstrators were again reported nationwide, despite regime efforts to block mosques and city squares.
The violence against the protesters was comparatively low by recent standards, with reports of at least six killed nationwide, and only one in the restive south, where the military had deployed tanks.
Fridays have always been the largest day for rallies in Syria, with Sunni protesters attending Friday prayers at mosques and going straight into the streets afterward, usually bolstered by a sermon critical of government crackdowns.
Today’s rallies appear to have demonstrated that the “military solution” has once again failed to quell the unrest. To that end, the Assad government has announced a “national dialogue” aimed at placating the protesters. This tactic has been tried in other nations as well, but as in the past comes after months of violence have exhausted any interest the protesters may have had for a negotiated settlement.
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