The Syrian government used helicopter gunships against its democracy protesters for the first time today, firing machine guns to “disperse the tens of thousands who marked in the protest” in Maaret al-Numan, according to a Fox News report.
The protesters reportedly “overwhelmed security forces and torched the courthouse and police station in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan,” which earned them a round of helicopters and tank shells. The helicopter strafing is said to have continued for hours, while unarmed civilians scrambled for cover.
Combined with government attacks in other parts of the country, this brought today’s death toll to at least 32.
The real horror of the weekend is yet to begin, as Syrian infantry and artillery mass near the restless town of Jisr al-Shughour. Earlier this week, police and military forces abandoned their posts when ordered to massacre protesters there. Dictator Bashar Assad is taking no chances this time, having deployed an army unit commanded by his younger brother, Maher.
The terrified populace of Jisr al-Shughour has almost completely abandoned the city and fled into Turkey, a development not pleasing to the Turks. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, who used to be chummy with Assad, recently described the crackdown as “savagery” and hinted he might be willing to get behind a U.N. Security Council resolution against Syria.