Assad - AP file photo - released 31.7.11
Syrian President Bashar Assad Photo by AP
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337 dead, around 1,300 wounded, body parts in the streets, destroyed homes and chatter at the United Nations. That more or less sums up a horrible day in Syria during which the Syrian military decided to attack the city of Homs in an unprecedented manner.

In the meantime, Assad does not need to be concerned about the discussions taking place at the UN in New York. The assertive parts of the Arab League proposal have been stripped and all that remain are a probable condemnation and meaningless call for Assad to transfer his powers to his deputy Farouk al-Shara. Russia has not yet given its proposals for the resolution and it is not clear if it will veto, abstain or support the new and watered down proposal that does not include any threat of military intervention, does not rule out the continuation of Russian arm sales to Syria, and does not include any hints of further sanctions. It is doubtful that the massacre in Homs will influence Russia's steadfast support for the Assad regime.

As international pressure may end with a murmur in a minute, Assad can continue with a new strategy of heavily shelling restive cities, killing indiscriminately and using Russian methods applied in Chechnya.

It is true, however, that the flow of Syrian army deserters continues, including Friday's report of senior Air Force officer Kasem Saad Al Din and another group of junior officers. Also, the Free Syrian Army photographed its flags flying over a military facility and is arresting Syrian army soldiers. But the Free Syrian Army does not have the capability to respond to the Syrian military's moves. According to opposition reports, the Free Syrian Army receives funding from Qatar and Saudi Arabia and even manages to smuggle in weapons from Lebanon but it does not have heavy weapons to fight with like the Syrian military.

The Syrian military's goal is now not only to restore its control over suburbs and towns seized by the Free Syrian Army and to prevent the spread of the uprising, but also to treat rebellious cities as enemy territory to be fully conquered with all means necessary. The memories of the massacre in Hama 30 years ago, in which tens of thousands of Syrians were killed, still echo in Syria, in the hearts of the demonstrators and in the head of Assad, who has not yet reached the peak of his father.

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