Since demonstrations against the Assad government began months ago, Friday has become a day for rallies in Syria, and despite the growing amount of violence against them, today was no different, with untold thousands demonstrating nation-wide.
The pro-democracy protests, as usual, sparked a harsh reaction from the regime, and activists say at least 44 people were shot dead at the protests. The violence spanned the nation, but the most severe site was Maaret al-Naaman, where 15 people were slain.
The toll is only a fraction of the deaths in some other Fridays, and the demonstrators appear increasingly resigned to the fact that risking their life is a price to pay for attending rallies. It is a price many seem only too willing to accept.
Which has many convinced that the situation is heading toward a stalemate, with President Assad’s control over the military likely able to ensure his nominal survival but the crackdowns not managing to scare the protesters away. At the same time, Syria’s protests began later than many of the other Arab Spring uprisings, and it may be hasty to declare that neither side has an end-game strategy. For Assad, at least, it seems murder isn’t working.