The Syrian military has intensified its offensive to crush a year-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, with diplomatic efforts failing to end the bloodshed.
As the country marked the first anniversary of the revolt, government troops pressed ahead with their efforts to dislodge opposition fighters from key cities in the south and north. In Idlib in the north, soldiers have driven out rebel forces and many civilians, and in Deraa, the site of the country’s first major anti-government protests in March 2011, soldiers supported by armoured vehicles have launched renewed attacks.
Assad supporters marked the occasion with rallies across the country, including in capital Damascus, saying the uprising was a “conspiracy” against the state. Pro-Assad rallies were also held in Suweida to the south and Hasaka in the northeast.
“After a whole year of pressure on Syria, we want to make the world hear our voice: Leave Syria in peace,” a woman on the street told a government television station.