On Sunday (June 12), the northwestern Syrian city of Jisr al-Shugur, CNN reports, “was under heavy shelling as hundreds of military vehicles entered the city and helicopters hovered in the sky.” The vicious onslaught, which Syrian state television blames on “armed gangs,” has escalated what human rights activists are calling a “humanitarian crisis” in the country, with some estimates placing the death toll at over 1,200.
Since March, protests have raged in the Arab country, where an authoritarian military rule has long been the norm. Recently though, the Syrian government’s crackdown on protestors has witnessed an intensification in violence exceptional even in one of the world’s most repressive regimes.
The government’s official narrative claims that the tanks and helicopter gunships are necessary to “restore security and tranquility,” that Syria is being “terrorized” by groups opposed to President Bashar Assad’s rule. According to objective observers, however, Syrians were fleeing the ravaged city to escape the state’s barrage, an unprovoked blitz against overwhelmingly peaceful protests.