Eyewitnesses say that at least 39 people were killed and 70 others wounded on Monday in the southern city of Daraa. The latest deaths came after a violent three day weekend of crackdowns starting with the “Good Friday Massacre.”
Monday’s offensive in Daraa took the crackdown to a new level, with the regime deploying tanks into the key border city. Daraa was the city where protests began over five weeks ago.
The use of tanks suggests that the Assad regime is moving into the stage where shows of force are its last weapon against dissent.
Shows of strength have been ineffective for the regime so far. Every Friday protest has been met with a violent crackdown, and the following Friday has seen protests dramatically bigger than the last. The use of such tactics seems to have convinced many opposition figures that they have little to lose in rebelling more openly.
The U.S. State Department said on Monday it has ordered some U.S. embassy officials in Damascus and all embassy dependents to leave Syria because of the “uncertainty and volatility” in the country.