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Terrorism & Security

Assad ally says Syrian regime will 'fight to the end'

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime has intensified its crackdown on protesters, despite mounting international pressure – including a slew of EU sanctions.

By Correspondent / May 11, 2011

Demonstrators rally against the Syrian regime's crackdown on protesters, outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo, on Tuesday, May 10. Syrian troops backed by tanks entered several southern villages near the flashpoint city of Deraa on Tuesday, according to an activist, as the Syrian government pressed its efforts to end a nationwide uprising.

Mohammed Abu Zaid/AP


Syria's beleaguered Assad regime has shown no sign of surrender despite mounting international pressure this week, instead intensifying a nationwide crackdown on protesters that began two months ago.

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The European Union this week issued a slew of sanctions against top government officials – including the president's brother, Maher al-Assad, who commands the country's elite security forces.

But a confidant of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told The New York Times that the Assad regime will "fight until the end" – a statement underscored by the regime's decision to begin shelling Syrian cities while tanks and snipers remain staked out across the country.

“What I’m saying is don’t let us suffer, don’t put a lot of pressure on the president, don’t push Syria to do anything it is not happy to do," Rami Makhlouf, a business tycoon and brother of Assad's intelligence chief, told the Times. “We will sit here. We call it a fight until the end. … They should know when we suffer, we will not suffer alone.”

To date, between 9,000 and 10,000 Syrians have been detained and at least 750 have been killed, according to reports from Syrian human rights organizations.

The Associated Press reports that American officials say the US is on the verge of calling for an end to the Assad regime, having lost hope that it will deliver on promises of reform. If true, it would be a major policy shift for the Obama administration, which has sought to engage Syria and woo it away from Iran.

The first step would be to state that President Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule, as the US did with Egypt and Libya. But before doing so the US wants to be certain it can back up words with action, partially because it's already invested in Libya and partially because it's not sure that the unknown alternative will be more palatable than Assad.

“We’re getting close,” one official said on the question of challenging Assad’s legitimacy, adding that such a step would oblige the US and, if other countries agree, the international community, to act.


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