Syrian troops intensify attacks as entire villages flee

The European Union may have acted by imposing travel restrictions and sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife and family, but it – and non-binding resolutions passed by the United Nations – are having little impact in stemming the violence. As UN envoy Kofi Annan plans to return to neogtiations on Sunday, the Syrian government shelled parts of central and northern Syria.

As the fighting intensifies and broadens, the growing refugee crisis is being felt in neighboring Turkey. It is estimated that as many as 16,000 Syrian refugees have fled into the tent cities in Turkey.

The refugee crisis will only increase. According to a United Nations commission, the residents of entire towns and villages are fleeing the wartorn nation. The more disturbing trend, however, is the shift by the Syrian government from targeting insurgents to killing the civilians who may be sheltering the opposition – so-called collective punishment.

“The commission’s chairman, Sergio Pinheiro, said the pattern of killings also had shifted — while most deaths in the early months were from clashes between security forces and unarmed protesters, many more are now from shelling and shootings by military units deployed to rout insurgents hiding among civilians.,” reports the New York Times.

There also is evidence of a growing involvement by Iran in providing assistance, including surveillance technology, to the Assad regime.

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