Syria Erupts

Protests against the Assad government have erupted across Syria, with the southern city of Dara’a apparently the main center. Pro-government demonstrations have taken place as well, especially in Damascus. Security forces have shot a number of demonstrators in Dara’a, as this dramatic video shows:

There are more videos here and here.
The Assad regime is a client of Iran, and Michael Ledeen passes on a report from the Reform Party of Syria that suggests Iranian security personnel may have entered the fray:

An eyewitness on BBC Arabic said that armed units speaking only Farsi descended upon Dara’a. They have smothered the walls of the al-Omari Mosque with their graffiti but several of them were captured. Another witness, Omar al-Masri, said that snipers took positions on rooftops and started shooting. He said Syrians converged in large numbers upon the rooftops and five snipers were captured. Al-Masri, confirmed the other eyewitness, and said that non-Syrians wearing all black were captured in al-Omari Mosque. They spoke only Farsi. The same eyewitness said that 25 Syrians are known to have died today in Dara’a and that many security people have resigned their positions in As-Sanamyn and Inkhil.

The current unrest across the Arab world has much potential for both good and ill. The administration’s principal response so far, the bombing campaign in Libya, appears random and half-hearted and is unlikely to have any effect on the more significant events occurring elsewhere.

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