President Bashar Assad's regime has launched a new and sweeping arrest campaign of opposition activists and intellectuals in the past few weeks, according to Western analysts and diplomats.
The growing tally of arrests has gone largely unnoticed, overshadowed by the daily violence that threatens to jeopardize the U.N. peace plan. But in combination, both are undermining the already faint hopes of peace.
While activists inside Syria say government forces are responsible for an explosion today in the city of Hama, and that about 70 people were killed, President Bashar Assad's regime has a much different story. It says about 16 people were killed by an explosion at a bomb factory used by "armed terrorist groups," the BBC reports.
A video appeal to the wife of Syrian President Bashar Assad asks her to persuade her husband to stop the killing. The campaign for Asma Assad to "stand up for peace" was started by the wives of British and German ambassadors to the United Nations. Melissa Block talks with Joan Juliet Buck, the last American journalist to spend time with the Assad family before the latest civil strife began in Syria.
Earlier this week, two women took a new approach to raising awareness about Syria's crackdown. The wives of the British and German ambassadors to the United Nations appealed directly to Syria's first lady with a video on YouTube. The narrator calls on Asma Assad to "stop being a bystander" — and to stop her husband and his supporters from continuing the conflict.