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Civil war erupting in Syria

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 4th, 2011
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

With over 4,000 people dead, and soldiers defecting from the Syrian army in record numbers, some United Nations officials are announcing that Syria is in a state of civil war.

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) - This is very dangerous news for President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria. Until now, Assad's regime has operated with relatives in impunity, orchestrating bloody crackdowns on antigovernment protesters. Although sanctions have been imposed, and the Arab League has taken a hard-line stance with the country, there is no evidence that government officials are feeling the effects of these attempts to restore peace in the troubled country.

Reports of new violence are now daily occurrences, and the conflict is no longer isolated to small pockets of resistance. On Thursday, 22 people were reported dead.

Syria is a broadly connected country. They are closely aligned with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the central government in Iran. Syria's regime has enjoyed almost unequivocal support from both Russia and China. The present concern is that instability in Syria could create problems involving Syria's allies and that conflict could spread instead of being peaceably resolved.

It is also apparent to authorities that the civil war appears to be one sided--so far. Virtually all of the dead have been civilians. The Syrian government refers to them as "terrorists" but the pictures, video, and eyewitness reports all confirm that the victims of this violence are nearly all civilian protesters, frequently unarmed.

UN and other world officials are stepping up their calls on President Assad to dial down the violence and find a peaceful solution. However, despite these warnings and pleas, the current regime remains defiant.

It is highly unlikely that President Assad and his fellow officials will emerge from this crisis unscathed. Since they undoubtedly realize this, the regime is probably "all in" and committed to quelling resistance by any means necessary.

Despite the government's swift and immediate resort to violence, the people of Syria have remained courageous and steadfast in their call for freedom. And as army soldiers and other military officials become increasingly disgusted with the conduct of their leadership, army defections are on the rise.

It would be na´ve to assume that the conflict in Syria can have any other outcome than protracted conflict. As the intensity of the violence continues to increase, it is likely that UN officials and world leaders will have to change their strategy from trying to persuade Assad's regime to accept peaceful reform, to a less-desirable strategy that contains the conflict within the borders of the very troubled country. 

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