Protesters in Syria came out in coordinated masses across the country to protest today, but the government's police apparatus was prepared to meet them—with live ammunition. Unconfirmed estimates of between 40 and 70 deaths are being reported, making it the bloodiest day in the five weeks since protests began. And it's only been one day since the Assad regime lifted the country's suffocating, decades-old emergency rule.
Two to three hundred have been killed in crackdowns to date. And while the protesters are certainly dedicated and determined, the anti-Assad movement may not ever have the numbers, strength or leverage that those behind the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions did. From the New York Times:
But despite the bloodshed, which promised to unleash another day of unrest as the dead are buried on Saturday, the momentum of the protests seemed to fall short of the popular upheaval that revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia represented. Organizers said the movement was yet in its infancy, and the government, building on 40 years of institutional inertia, still commanded the loyalty of the military, the economic elite and sizable minorities of Christian and heterodox Muslim sects who fear the state's collapse.
Protesters near Damascus were at least able to break off the head of a statue of Hafez al-Assad, President Bashir al-Assad's father, and kick the hell out of it. You can watch that in the clip up top.