In the early morning hours of Nov. 16, Syrian army defectors staged a daring raid on an Air Force Intelligence Directorate complex on the northern edge of Damascus. Employing heavy weapons and machine guns, the attack not only shook the Syrian capital, it struck at the heart of the regime -- the air force was former President Hafez al-Assad's base of support when he seized control of the Syrian state in 1970 -- and during the current unrest its intelligence services have been used to squelch dissent within the armed services. Though helicopters circled above the area and gunfire was heard throughout the neighborhood, Syrian state media made no mention of the assault.
An explanation of how FP collected the statistics used in this article.
The attack punctuated what is shaping up to be Syria's bloodiest month yet -- and perhaps a turning point in the eight-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule. As Syrian army defectors targeted symbols of government power, the regime has continued its crackdown on peaceful protesters, notably in the restive city of Homs and the governorate of Hama. With the violencing threatening to spiral out of control, the Turkish prime minister called on the world to "hear the screams" of Syrians and international efforts to find a resolution to the crisis have increased.
The Assad regime, which finds itself increasingly isolated internationally, may be doubling down on repressive measures in an attempt to gain the upper hand against its foes. With the Arab League poised to suspend Syrian membership into the organization, Assad has increasingly few friends to placate by keeping casualties low.
It wasn't always this way. Violence surged in April, driven by an assault on the southern town of Deraa -- the first major center of revolt -- and subsequent attacks by Syrian security forces on mourners at funeral processions for slain protesters. But over the summer -- despite a pre-Ramadan assault on the protest hub of Hama and the shelling by tanks and warships of demonstrators in the port city of Latakia -- the Assad regime managed to bring casualties down significantly. Since August, however, deaths have crept higher once again. If current trends continue, a whopping 800 people may lose their lives in Syria this month.
For more: Read "Measuring Syria's Violence," an explanation of how FP compiled this data.