Is Escalating Violence Against Civilians Turning Syria Into the Next Libya?

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Photo: via wissamtarif's Twitter

Violence against anti-government protesters in Syria has escalated beyond the bloody crackdown on Great Friday last week. Syrian troops are using tanks and heavy armor to attack both the southern town of Dara’a and Douma, a suburb of Damascus. At least 25 people have been reported killed in Dara’a, with bodies strewn across the streets.

With few Western media outlets on the ground, a loosely organized network of social media activists have been left to tell the story.

In the video below, Syrian tanks fired on protesters. On the Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan wondered, "How long before we are informed it is a genocide? And [how] long after that will it be before the glaring precedent of Libya comes back to haunt NATO?"

Malath Aumran, a Syrian cyber-activist who writes under a pseudonym, wrote on Twitter:

The Syrian people are facing unlimited brutal violence. Daraa is now under attack and entirely isolated from the world, the electricity and all sort of communication has been cut off. Duma has been under siege and dozens of youth have been detained and it is very terrifying to just think about the treatment they receive by the Syrian security forces. Similar to this is happening in Jableh, Banias, and other parts of the country. We appeal to the international public opinion, to international organizations and every free soul to stand by the Syrian people in their tragedy. We ask them to apply every possible pressure on the Syrian regime to stop the crimes against the peaceful citizens. Your words and voices can save people like you,who are only asking for freedom, dignity and nothing more.

In addition to the 400 reported dead, human rights groups say 221 citizens have been reported missing since the uprising started in March. It appears the government's attempts to block out news has caught up with activists in Dara’a and cities like Homs. Organizers had trouble reaching contacts, and fewer videos of the conflict were posted. A resident named Abdullah told the New York Times, “It’s an attempt to occupy Dara’a." Security forces have taken three mosques already but haven't yet captured the Omari Mosque, where thousands are reported to have taken refuge.

Insan Intl blogger Wissam Tarif linked to this video of a protester in Syria facing live fire from Syrian security forces while crying out, "We are peaceful"

In response to the severity of the attacks, the White House is considering new "targeted sanctions" against Assad's regimes. But even some pro-reform Syrians are bristling at Western attempts to intervene. Amina A., a Syrian-American who has a blog called A Gay Girl in Damascus, wrote a post titled "Thanks, but not thanks, Mr. Obama":

I am though a believer in our struggle for democracy and, like many others of us inside Syria, I do not want foreign ‘help’ when it comes to bringing democracy to our beloved Syria. We do not seek and do not want the sort of ‘help’ that is offered from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, the USA, or France: we are not blind and we can see how that ‘help’ is only offered when it is seen as serving those interests. Why else would some of the same countries send troops to repress pro-democracy movements in Bahrain also send them to Libya? They are trying to steal the Arab revolution and subvert it into the old channels of colonial dominance.

That is not what we want. We want a Syria free of foreign control; just as our forerunners resisted the French, we will resist such attempts.

Toll rises as army storms Syrian towns [Al Jazeera]
White House ratchets up pressure on Syria [CBS News]
Syria Descends ... [Andrew Sullivan/Daily Dish]