Untouched by Revolution No More
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Pro Syria protesters flooded Pennsylvania Ave. in front of the White House on March 26th, 2011.
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is not the only minority dictator ruling over a majority population in the Middle East, but he is (arguably) the most brutal and newsworthy currently. Unfortunately for Assad, the number of towns and cities that have been immune to the protests and violence are beginning to dwindle in his homeland. Syria’s most populous city of Aleppo had not yet experienced large-scale protests or violence prior to the beginning of the month. But on May 2nd, a day after the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations announced that both government and opposition forces were in violation of the ceasefire, government security forces dispersed a student protest and raided the dormitories of Aleppo University. Up to five students were killed and around 200 were arrested as the forces fired bullets and tear-gas to break up the anti-government protest. The Free Syrian Amry, the armed wing of the uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s regime consisting of anti-regime citizens and government army defectors, responded by triggering a bomb at an alleged pro-regime business in Syria’s second city, the day following the student raids.
A week later Syria’s capital of Damascus was hit with one of the most lethal attacks since the beginning of the unrest that began over a year ago. Two suicide bombs were detonated resulting in 55 casualties and over 350 people injured. The Syrian government and the opposition cast blame for the blasts on one another while jihadist group al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for all the recent bombings in the capital. Al-Nusra is described as the “mujahedeen of Syria in the arena of jihad” and flies the black jihadist flag also flown by al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Also occurring in the month of May is some of the heaviest shelling in the city of Homs, unlike Aleppo and Damascus, no stranger to violence, a UN convoy carrying Maj. Gen. Robert Mood was struck by an explosion outside of the city of Deraa and the killing of at least 20 people while attending a funeral in Khan Sheikhoun at the hands of government security forces. All of this taking place during a month-old ceasefire created by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan and monitored by unarmed UN observers who’s numbers in Syria will soon reach 300. Annan’s peace plan however is thought to be “on track”, as told by his spokesperson Ahmed Fawzi in Geneva while BBC correspondent Jonathan Head says “bomb attacks are now a regular occurrence in Damascus and Aleppo, which have otherwise been spared the worst violence of the Syrian conflict.”