Thursday was the first operative day of the cease-fire in Syria. On that day, more than a dozen people were reported killed in fighting, and Syrian forces had not pulled back their tanks from the major cities, as per the agreement. So it’s the kind of cease-fire where 12 people die.
Today was a bigger test. Friday evenings have become a traditional time of protest during the Arab uprising. And in that same spirit, protesters poured out into the streets today. According to AP, security forces merely fired guns into the air to disperse crowds, and beat protesters. So that would be a kinder, gentler repression. But The Guardian paints the picture more vividly:
2.55pm: Syria: Security forces have committed breaches of Kofi Annan’s peace plan in 31 areas by opening fire on peaceful demonstrators, the Local Co-ordination Committees network alleges. It has named all of the areas.
It has posted videos purporting to be of a number of the alleged breaches. We cannot independently verify this information.
One of the areas listed is Qarabees, where this footage showing a tank firing was purportedly filmed.
Idlib was also named by the LCC. This video shows people running amid the sound of gunshots.
Another video, from Kanaker, Damascus, shows people throwing objects as shots ring out and teargas is used. It is impossible to tell from the video which side used violence first.
The LCC claims 15 people have been killed by the security forces so far today.
In addition, more clashes were reported at the Turkish border between rebel fighters and Syrian troops. Syrian state TV claimed that one of their troops was murdered by an “armed group,” which is what they call protesters.
So we have mass protests marred by beatings, open firing on protesters, 15 dead, fighting at the border, and claims of killings of officers as a provocation for more violence. It’s a heck of a cease-fire.
But surely the 10 to 12 observers that the UN is about to deploy will change all that.