The Syrian government's brutal crackdown of demonstrators reached a tipping point Wednesday as opposition forces began to wage increasingly sophisticated attacks against the military.
The Associated Press reports that army defectors killed eight soliders today in retaliation for a brazen attack on a civilan car in the central province of Hama, which killed the five passengers inside. Word of the ambush comes from Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and other activists who say the gunmen ambushed four military jeeps in a barrage of bullets. "The ambush shows how the Syrian conflict is growing into an insurgency," reports the AP. "The uprising against President Bashar Assad was mostly peaceful when it began nine months ago." Abdul-Rahman says the area is a "stronghold of dissent where anti-regime protests are routinely held and where there are a number of (army) defectors."
The Guardian speaks with a medical supplier from Hama named Walde who expects an escalated government crackdown. "In the last few days they started to bring troop reinforcements and tanks around Hama and in Hama. We don't know exactly what's happening, but there are more forces coming," he said. He said the opposition movement couldn't be stamped out by the government and vowed that it would fight back. " I don't think the government will be successful. We feel in this area, in Homs and Hama, that all the people are opposing the government. They can't kill all the people."
The AP, in a separate story, notes that the attacks follow a bloody confrontation Tuesday where government forces opened fired on thousands of Syrians participating in a funeral procession in the northern city of Idlib, "The flare-up of violence, near the Turkish border, is fresh evidence that the Syrian uprising is growing into a full insurgency," writes the news agency. "Military defectors known as the Free Syrian Army have been fighting back with increasingly sophisticated attacks, giving protesters hope of a fighting chance against Assad's fiercely loyal forces but also complicating an uprising that was once largely peaceful." Reuters reports that the country's growing armed insurgency has "fueled fears of civil war," noting that "The Syrian government says more than 1,100 members of the army, police and security services have been killed. State media give daily reports of military funerals as well as frequent clashes with armed groups and discoveries of explosives."
Though dozens of activists and journalists have been jailed since the protests against President Bashar Assad began nine months ago, the latest is Razan Ghazzawi, a U.S.-born Syrian blogger charged with trying to incite sectarian violence and spreading false information to weaken the regime. "The latter charge is is often levelled against those who challenge the regime, rights activists say. The charges could carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years."