Uroen i Syria eskalerer. En elitestyrke stormet en moske i byen Deraa onsdag. Styrken ble ledet av Maher al-Assad, bror til presidenten. Det sier noe om hvor mye som står på spill.

Regimet har tråkket lokalbefolkningen på tærne. Det begynte med ungdommer som ble arrestert for grafitti. De ble sittende i varetekt og det fikk folk ut på gatene. Siden har regimet eskalert, og nå begynner det å bli farlig.

At least 150 people were said to be inside the mosque Wednesday when activists said it was stormed by troops from the Syrian army’s elite fourth division, which is headed by Maher al-Assad, brother of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

Among the victims of the assault was Ali Ghassab al-Mahamid, a doctor from a leading family in the town who went to the mosque to help treat the wounded, and Ibtissam Masalmeh, a young girl, according to Syria opposition sources.

“They asked everyone to go home and then began shouting and throwing tear gas. They closed the doors and the shooting began,” says Mr. Ziadeh.

One video posted on YouTube shows groups of protesters calling the Syrian troops “traitors.» Gunshots are clearly audible in the clip and tear gas can be seen billowing in the streets as people scattered. At least 100 people were reported wounded.

Omari-moskeen er omgitt til et improvisert sykehus. Videoer av sårede ligger ute på youtube. Regimet har skutt mennesker, ubevæpnede, som har demonstrert, og senere har de skutt menneskene i begravelsesfølget. Det er oppskriften på et mer omfattende opprør.

Fordi regimet er preget av nepotisme, vil alle opprør fort dreie seg om Assad-familiens prestisje. Presidentens fetter er leder av det lokale sikkerhetspolitiet, slik det er i en politistat. Folk krever ham fjernet, men Assad, kan eller tør ikke gi etter. Det vil være å skyte seg selv i benet, han vil tape ansikt.

Men det kan være Assad i stedet mister hodet.

They have demanded the removal of Faisal Kalthoum, the governor of the Deraa Province, whom they accuse of corruption and incompetence, and Atef Nagib, the local head of political security and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Kalthoum has been dismissed, but Mr. Nagib is believed to still hold office.

“It is notable that the regime is refusing everything and blaming armed gangs while at the same time giving in to all the demands of the demonstrators,” says a European diplomat in Damascus. “It could indicate internal divisions.”

Deraa lies in the Hawran region of southern Syria, where society is defined by strict tribal codes and loyalties that help explain why the uprising has persisted and expanded despite the efforts of the Syrian authorities. At least two other towns in the Hawran have seen protests – Nowa and Jassem, 18 and 25 miles north of Deraa, respectively.

“The tribes have all united in Hawran and they are asking for freedom,” says Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, who says he has been in contact with the protesters.

Syrian protests turn more violent