With a growing number of countries announcing the withdrawal of their ambassadors to Syria to protest the week of massacres in Hama and elsewhere, the Syrian government has announced the replacement of their Defense Minister with their current army chief Gen. Daood Rajha.
Internationally the move is being touted as a response to the demands of residents in some of the major protest cities. In their own state media, which hasn’t even acknowledged the massacres, they insist the move is simply because the outgoing DM’s health is “deterioratng.” They are also playing up that troops are leaving Hama, the site of hundreds of civilian deaths.
It was already unlikely that the move would be seen as serious contrition for the large number of civilian deaths recently, but reports of more civilians being shot dead on the streets of Deir Al-Zur underscore that the regime is still trying to use violence to silence the protests.
So far, however, this tactic has failed miserably. Syria went from protests of a few hundred people to a few thousand, and eventually, as violence fueled ever larger protests, to hundreds of thousands demonstrating on a normal Friday.