As the world talks about how to respond to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s bloody crackdown on the uprising in his country, opposition activists in the country say his military and security services are engaged in a vicious campaign of destruction meant to wipe out the opposition. Almost nothing, it seems, is off limits, they say — not shelling, not snipers, not torture.
To hear al-Assad tell it, the violence is the work of terrorists, and his troops are martyrs to the state’s effort to secure peace. But eyewitness accounts and videos streaming out of Syria on the Internet paint a starkly different picture.
Where state television shows the Syrian president surrounded by clerics in a peaceful prayer, opposition video shows an injured man being hustled into a makeshift medical clinic from the back of a bloody pickup truck, mothers crying in the street. Snipers and tanks from the Syrian armed forces — at nearly 400,000 strong, according to the U.S. State Department, one of the largest in the Middle East — stalk the streets. Barricades keep their quarry from freely moving, according to activists who say day-and-night shelling often hits residential neighborhoods.
Throughout the country, government forces have taken over schools and hospitals to use as detention centers and sniper nests, Human Rights Watch reported this week. A father told investigators he stopped allowing his 10-year-old son attend school because of snipers targeting travelers on the road leading to school. Human rights groups also say security forces have taken and tortured children.
The United Nations estimates that at least 6,000 people have died since the violence began nearly a year ago. So far, nothing has stopped the death and suffering.
Image: The Telegraph