March 29, 2012: The government still faces its most implacable foe in the form of cell phone videos that constantly contradict assertions that troops and police are not attacking civilians. The videos show that the artillery and ground assaults continue. But there are too many towns and villages in rebellion and too few loyal troops to go after them all and shut down opposition completely. The government strategy remains one of continuing to attack hostile civilians in the hope that the civilians will give up resisting before the government runs out of cash and armed loyalists. Iran has been subsidizing the government with billions of dollars in cash. But this is hurting Iran, which is also under international embargo. So that source of money is drying up. Iran has sent security advisors but no gunmen. Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah gunmen have shown up in small numbers, but it's still up to a shrinking number of loyal Syrian secret policemen, soldiers, and police to go after the many protesting civilians and armed rebels. There is so much unrest in the country that the loyal forces are giving up on wiping out all the resistance and are now just staging raids on rebellious towns, villages, and neighborhoods that have driven away the local police.
Nearly 10,000 protestors and armed rebels have been killed in the last year, most of them in the last few months. Some 50,000 Syrians have fled the country, and refugee experts expect this number to quadruple if the violence continues.
In the meantime, the continued violence is embarrassing to Syrian allies (Russia, Iran, China) and critics (the rest of the world, especially the Arab League and neighboring countries). Everyone wants the ugly violence to go away, but that won't happen until the Assad dictatorship falls or the Syrian people are beaten into submission. The Assads appear determined to keep fighting until their people submit. That has encouraged more Arab League countries to call for openly supporting the rebels (with weapons, men, and more). In theory, this could tempt Iran to makes threats to its Arab neighbors to halt such support. From there, the situation could be interesting. However, Iran has been openly advising the Assads to scale back the violence and make some kind of deal. Trouble is, the Syrian people are not willing to compromise. The Assads have to go. They probably will, after a lot more people die.
So far, the rebels have been buying weapons from Lebanese and Iraqi smugglers. The prices keep going up, along with demand. The rebels do not have enough cash to buy all they need. So cash and weapons from Arab states would be a big help.
The fighting is getting uglier. Not only are the rebels resorting to assassinations of government leaders but the army and police are rounding up civilians for use as human shields, where there is a risk of being fired on by rebels. All of this is going to get worse.
The UN has passed a peace plan for Syria that calls for a halt to government and rebel violence in Syria but not for the dictator, Bashar Assad, to leave office. The Syrian government only agreed to the UN plan because of pressure from Russia and Iran. But the Syrian government is not following the peace plan and is instead continuing to attack demonstrators and armed rebels. Meanwhile, the Arab League is meeting in Iraq to debate providing armed support for the Syrian rebels. Saudi Arabia is pushing for this. Syria earlier had its membership suspended and in response is refusing to have anything to do with the League.
Lebanon is protesting Syrian troops crossing into Lebanon to attack Syrian rebels based in farm buildings a few hundred meters from the border. This has happened more than once recently. Syrian artillery has also fired into Lebanon.
March 28, 2012: In the northern city of Aleppo, an army general was shot dead by four rebels. This sort of thing is increasingly common and has hurt morale among senior military officers and government officials.
Syria refused UN requests to stop attacks on civilians.
March 27, 2012: Syria accepted the UN peace plan, which calls for a halt to government and rebel violence. This ceasefire is to be followed by negotiations.
March 26, 2012: Turkey and Norway have shut down their embassies because of the worsening security in the capital.
March 25, 2012: The government has banned any men aged 18-42 from leaving the country without written permission from the army. This is another measure to deal with the growing desertion in the armed forces. Many of those who desert try to leave the country before the police catch up with them.
March 21, 2012: Japan has shut down its embassy because of the worsening security in the capital.