Fares Chamseddine writes: The fall of Baba Amr, when it happens, will be a serious blow to the morale of protesters throughout Syria and abroad. The Baba Amr district of Homs has come to symbolise the Syrian people’s defiance against the dictator, and if President Bashar al-Assad manages to crush this centre of urban revolt he may feel emboldened to carry on wherever else mass protests threaten his rule.
In fact, Assad’s army has been methodically crushing each urban centre of protest that has emerged over the past year. It began with a ruthless military campaign against the city of Deraa. At the time Syria’s artists and actors still had the self-confidence to organise such efforts as “Milk for Deraa” and to call for an end to the armed campaign.
In those days there was still a naive hope that Assad was a reasonable man who could be appealed to. Of course, those days are long gone and we saw last summer how, during Ramadan, Assad’s forces began shelling the city of Hama for daring to field demonstrations of hundreds of thousands of people.
Over the course of an entire month, Hama was subjected to a systematic campaign of brutal repression. The result is we hardly see any demonstrations from that city any more; certainly none that are near the size of the early demonstrations. Rastan, Latakia, and Deir al-Zour, all shared the same fate, each in their own way, but it is Homs that has remained defiant, and it is Homs has been a thorn in Assad’s side throughout the uprising.
Soon, this will no longer be the case. At the time of writing there are reports that more than half the district is now under the control of Assad’s divisions, who are conducting door-to-door searches. It would have been naive to expect that the elements of the Free Syrian Army, and any other local militias, would have been able to hold out against Assad indefinitely, but this is not the end of the revolution.