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Assad Unleashes Tanks after Arab League Suspends Mission

Tanks slaughter Syrians after Arab League suspends mission. Army retakes Damascus suburbs. Israel on border alert.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 1/30/2012, 1:19 PM

Syrian President Bashar Assad unleashed his tanks on his citizens Sunday and Monday, as the carnage worsened following the Arab League's suspension of its mission that was supposed to help bring a truce to the civil war.

The Syrian army has retaken suburbs of Damascus that temporarily had fallen into the hands of the revolution movement, which is nearly a year old. Hundreds more have been killed in the past week, pushing the death toll well beyond 6,000 and possibly much higher.

Saudi Arabia’s order to withdraw its delegation from the Arab League mission, and Damascus’ blaming Gulf States for the storming of the Syrian embassy in Cairo last Friday, may have paved the way for United Nations intervention.

The rebels’ Syrian National Council, supported by Gulf Arab nations, vehemently denied charges that it broke down the gates of the embassy.

Saudi Arabia dealt a death blow to the Arab League mission, which was under the constant guard of Assad loyalists who carefully cleansed scenes of brutal attacks on civilians and kept the delegates under surveillance.

Russia has been the main stumbling block to United Nations intervention, but meetings by some Arab League delegates with the Syrian opposition and the Gulf States’ call for "all possible pressure" on Damascus may turn the tide against Assad in the international body.

The violence continues to spread across the borders with Israel’s northern enemy-neighbors, and the IDF is on alert for trouble in southern Lebanon, which effectively is governed by the Syrian-Hizbullah axis. Lebanon claimed last week that Israel had built an illegal observation post.

Within in Syria, the government reported that “terrorists” again attacked a gas pipeline near the Lebanese border. Syria has turned the border zone into a huge field of landmines to prevent soldiers from deserting to Lebanon and to stop civilians from fleeing.

Assad’s regime is hanging on, and unconfirmed reports said that rebels prevented his wife from fleeing the country this week.

With the rebellion threatening the heart of Damascus, the  regime "is looking weaker than at any point during the past 10 months", according to analysts quoted by the Washington Post.