A video from Syria shows the testimony of a soldier who said Assad’s forces shot at him when he defected after refusing to kill unarmed civilians in the Damascus area. Meanwhile, Syrian secret police and soldiers have arrested 1,000 people in the past two days and have surrounded the city of Banyas.

The soldier, whose identity has not been confirmed, said he is from the Republic Guard, an elite force of soldiers who were told to change their military uniforms for black anti-terror clothing after being told that “armed gangs” were killing civilians.

After the soldiers arrived at the scene, the soldier testified, “We were surprised that there was not a gang. It was a normal demonstration for the fall of the regime, and we were surprised that the intelligence and security opened fire with live ammunition on the demonstrators without any reason on women and children.

“I and five of my friends did not open fire… We escaped by approaching the demonstration… We threw our weapons and then women and men from the demonstration protected us.”

He said a friend of his was shot and wounded by their comrades but that he managed to escape injury.”

Syrian President Bashar Assad and protesters are locked in a war of escalating wills – one of brute force and the other of the determination not to be intimidated by force, even if it means death.

More than 600 people have been killed in the protest movement that has left Western nations at bay after years of treating Assad as the key to Middle East peace. When the regional uprising reached Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke up for Assad and called him a “reformer.”

As Assad’s security forces round up opponents, one dissident said that the army is occupying the hospital in Deraa, which has been the focal point of demonstrations. Dissidents report that as many as 6,000 people have been arrested since the uprising began.

The increase of arrests and the sudden quiet of tanks and machine guns the past two days may indicate Assad is shifting his tactics from force to the use of intimidaiton to quell the demonstrations.

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