Assad is set to declare victory over Syria's uprising

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  1. TLSS_N
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    Damascus is humming in anticipation of the victory speech Syrian President Bashar Assad is about to deliver in the coming hours with the announcement that the 10-week popular uprising against his regime has been defeated, debkafile's military sources report. In advance of the speech, Assad Tuesday, May 31 declared a general amnesty "for all members of political movements including the Muslim Brotherhood" (membership of which is punishable by death in Syria.)
    It is not clear how many of the 10,000 protesters impirsoned will benefit from the amnesty - or how genuine it is. The Syrian ruler may only be pretending to release all political prisoners to show he is meeting one of the protesters' key demands without meaning to carry out his promise.
    Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz reported Tuesday to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that according to his information the death toll from Assad's brutal crackdown had shot up to 1,200.

    Also Tuesday, ruling Baath party sources reported that shortly before the speech, a national dialogue commission would be established representing political and economic interests in the country. They were careful to avoid saying "political parties" would be included in this forum.
    According to our sources, propagandists in Damascus are striving to present a picture of wall-to-wall national reconciliation, while in practice, the Syrian ruler does not for a moment contemplate bringing opposition parties into his next political moves.
    After suppressing protest in most parts of Syria with tanks, artillery and gunfire, Syrian troops are still fighting dissidents in two suburbs of the central city of Homs, Talbiseh and Rastan. They are the only pockets where Syrian troops have been confronted with heavily armed protesters using rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.

    Most of the uprising's ringleaders had by last week fled to Lebanon and set up an anti-Assad struggle's headquarters-in-exile in the northern port-town of Tripoli. From there, they smuggled arms to hold-out groups in Talbiseh and Rastan. But most military sources say these are the last dying embers of national campaign of resistance and the army will soon make short work of them.

    In any case, the hard core of the protest movement is on the point of departing Lebanon, mainly by sea, and heading for a safe haven somewhere in West Europe before Assad sends commando units after them in helicopters.
    Syria's veteran opposition leaders in exile were given permission by the Turkish government to hold a three-day conference in Antalya on ways of sustaining the anti-Assad impetus after the first 10 weeks.
    At the opening session starting Tuesday, those leaders were dismayed to find their ranks had been heavily penetrated by Assad loyalists. The communiqué they issued criticizing Asssad's amnesty and national reconciliation moves as "too little and too late" was the best they could manage.[/p]

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