So sayeth the Guardian, confirming a story that has been circulating for days in the Syrian samizdat community. The facts are pretty straightforward: some Syrian soldiers disobeyed orders to shoot at unarmed, peaceful demonstrators. They were gunned down by regime snipers. The regime then blamed the demonstrators. But now there are eyewitness accounts–including some from victims–that provide a clear picture of the events.
As the regime is now being guided by Iranian “advisors,” this is no great surprise; the same methods have frequently been used during demonstrations in the Islamic Republic.
To be sure, there may be cases in which citizens have shot back at regime thugs, although there is no confirmation of this theory.
This story is actually a double whammy, because it not only shows the desperate brutality of the regime, but also serious cracks in Assad’s main instrument of repression, the Army. This, too, echoes Iran, where members of the Revolutionary Guards have also disobeyed orders to kill peaceful demonstrators, and who have been killed in turn.
As we saw in the Soviet Union, totalitarian regimes sometimes implode; it isn’t always necessary to attack them violently. Remember that vast sucking sound when Comrade Gorbachev ceased to be the dictator of history’s chosen superpower and became an overpaid speaker on the international celebrity tour? It all begins when the mailed fist hangs limply at the side instead of delivering pain to its designated victims.