Armed Groups Are on Rise in Syria, as Are Civil War Fears
Deserters from the Syrian Army reportedly carried out attacks against the offices of the Syrian ruling Baath party in northwestern Syria on Thursday, a day after they claimed an assault on an intelligence base that Russia, Syria’s closest ally, said was bringing the country closer to civil war.
The Syrian government did not mention either attack, which were reported by activists, citing the accounts of local residents, and their scale and effectiveness was not clear. But even without a firm picture of any damage, the attacks were, at a minimum, indicative of growing boldness on the part of military defectors in the face of a crackdown that the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people.
Some analysts said that the military defections may be increasing after an Arab League rebuke, a powerful signal that even Syria’s Arab neighbors could no longer brook the bloody crackdown.
On Thursday, the civilian toll mounted. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, said that at least 11 people were killed across Syria, including four army defectors, seven civilians and two minors.
In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov said that the international community should call on all sides in Syria to stop the bloodshed. “There are more and more weapons that are being smuggled in from neighboring countries,” Mr. Lavrov said. “Today I saw a television report about some new so-called rebel Free Syrian Army organizing an attack on the government building, on the building belonging to Syria’s armed forces.”
“This was quite similar to a true civil war,” he added.