Syrian Opposition Mounts as Violence Continues

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The protests against Syrian President Bashar Assad keep springing up, and government-led tanks keep coming to crush them.

An estimated 3,500 civilians have died during seven months of anti-Assad demonstrations.

More alarming for the Syrian leader is that 1,500 members of his security forces are dead as well.

"As a result of the continuing acts of oppression by the Assad regime and the killing of unarmed people who are demanding their right to a free life, we declare our defection from the Baathist army. We are joining the free people in the Syrian free army," one Syrian army defector recently said.

Meanwhile, Syria's political opposition has been in Moscow, cautioning the Russians to stop supporting Assad.

Both Russia and China have opposed U.N. sanctions against Syria because of economic and military ties with Assad.

Turkey and the Arab League have taken the lead in isolating Assad. Meeting in Morocco, the Arab League is expected to confirm its vote to suspend Syria for its brutal crackdown.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said from Ankara that Assad should note the "tragic end" that comes to oppressive leaders and warned he should not be a leader that "feeds on blood."

Turkey is now refusing to drill for oil in Syria and has threatened cuts in electricity to some parts of the country.

Further pressure on Assad came from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

"It is increasingly important now that President Assad must immediately stop killing his own people and agree to implement this agreement with the league of Arab member states," he said.

This week, Jordan's King Abdullah became the first Arab leader to call for Assad to go.

In Syria, Assad lifts his news blackout only for rallies by his supporters. If he doesn't go quietly, more defections could lead to a wider Syrian civil war.

That could boost the chances for conflict in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

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John Waage

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John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.