Typical Friday mass protests in Syria led to another day of nationwide violence, with opposition figures saying as many as 37 people were killed by regime forces, one of the deadliest days since the ceasefire began three weeks ago.
Rebels cited the violence as proof of government violation of the ceasefire, and while this is certainly true it comes only two days after a flurry of rebel attacks, themselves in violation of the ceasefire, killed 22 troops.
This is the state of Syria under the UN ceasefire, with monitors trickling into the country and violence measurably down, but both sides seemingly looking to commit any attacks they think they can get away with. Kofi Annan says the peace process is “on track” but until it actually gets off the ground the civilian population is trapped in the middle of a still-smouldering civil war.
Even the tenor of the protests has changed, with slogans demanding Assad’s ouster being replaced with massive English-language signs promising to see the long-time dictator “beheaded” and warning those still loyal to his regime of terrible retaliation to come. We are assured that behind the scenes progress is being made, but the excrutiating slowness, combined with constant Western calls to abandon the ceasefire and invade the country outright, are inevitably keeping the situation unstable.