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Elsewhere in Syria, the FSA battled Assad’s forces in Homs, Deraa and Idlib, as well as in villages near Latakia on the Mediterranean coast. One Latakia village — Haffeh — has roused the concern of the UN and State Department as Assad’s forces have been pulverizing the town with mortars and helicopter gunships, and UN monitors have been prevented from entering. “People will be held accountable,” said spokesperson Nuland, referring to the gathering of forces outside of Haffeh, reported by UN monitors at the scene. As the monitors pulled back, local townspeople threw rocks at the UN vehicles and several shots were fired in their direction. Whatever is going to happen in Haffeh, it is apparent that the Syrian government doesn’t want any witnesses.
One expert believes that more massacres of civilians makes the establishment of “humanitarian corridors” more than a possibility. Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a policy group, told Bloomberg News, “The creation of safe havens has become inevitable and is relatively imminent. It’s not a question of if but when.”
These “safe havens” would have to be established and defended by troops on the ground — something that the UN would never vote for given Russia’s adamant opposition to using military force against Assad, and prospects for which no Western nation is eager to explore.
The real danger of a civil war is that it would spill over into neighboring countries with the potential for starting a general Middle East conflict. Syrian forces are massing near the Turkish border outside the country’s second largest city, Aleppo. Secretary Clinton says such a deployment could be a “red line” for Turkey, who has harbored the FSA as well as hosting the Syrian civilian opposition. “We are watching this very carefully,” she said.
It seems clear that the Syrian rebellion has entered a new phase. President Assad has stepped up the violence and brutality of his attacks while the FSA is fighting back with increasing skill and ferocity. As the war escalates, the chances of Western intervention of some kind rise substantially, despite reluctance in capitals from Bonn to Washington to undertake a humanitarian mission.
And Syrian civilians, caught in the crossfire and murdered indiscriminately by Assad’s regular and irregular forces, continue dying in the hundreds and thousands.
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