Syria's ambassador to France resigned on live television, in protest of a brutal crackdown on unarmed protesters in her country. The resignation may be the first crack in the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, who is facing the first inklings of armed revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as diplomatic pressure from abroad.
"I can no longer continue to support the cycle of extreme violence against unarmed civilians. I can no longer ignore all those young men, women, and children who have died," said Syrian ambassador to France Lamia Chakkour, in a telephone interview for English-language television station France 24. "I recognize the legitimacy of the people's demands for more democracy and freedom ... in the face of these protests, the government response has been wrong." Later reports suggested that she recanted her decision, and threatened to sue the French station.
The violent crackdown of the Baathist regime has killed at least 1,100 since it picked up in late March. Peaceful protests have been met with live gun and tank fire, creating a refugee crisis and enormous diplomatic pressure on the Assad regime.
Armed clashes broke out between the Muslim Brotherhood and Syrian security forces in Jisr al-Shugur and a number of other villages in the Syrian north, costing the lives of 90 security members and 23 opposition activists, CNN reported. Sources also told CNN that nine government tanks and two helicopters were destroyed, allegedly with weapons smuggled over the Turkish-Syrian border.
Other reports suggest that clashes are breaking out between defecting government forces and those still loyal to the Baathist regime. While many elite military and police positions are filled by relatives of the president and those of his minority religious denomination, the Alawites, the military is conscripted from the general population. Syrian opposition has said that many of these soldiers refuse to participate in violence against their families and innocent people, by a regime that is increasingly seen as illegitimate both inside and outside Syria.
The crackdown has also led to increasing isolation of the nation from diplomats abroad. France's foreign minister Alain Juppé has promised action in the United Nations Security Council and has declared that Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule. The United States and European Union also have imposed sanctions on the senior Syrian leadership.