May 21, 2011
BEIRUT — Defying a stern warning from President Obama, Syrian forces opened fire on protesters after Friday prayers, killing at least 32 people as the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad showed no sign of easing its military crackdown.
The shootings came a day after Obama said that Assad that he should oversee a transition to democracy or “get out of the way,” marking the first time the U.S. leader has publicly called on the Syrian regime to change its behavior.
The continued assault illustrated how little leverage the United States holds over Syria, a country with which it has long had frosty relations, and whose leaders seem in no mood to back down from a brutal effort to suppress the protests by force.
With the protesters also showing renewed determination to brave bullets and tanks to take their challenge to the streets, the country appears locked in a bloody standoff that many fear will only escalate into further violence. Many Syrian activists now say that it may be too late for Assad to change course and offer reforms to a populace that has endured weeks of bloodshed and no longer trusts the regime to change.
This article was posted: Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 5:12 am