The Asad Regime Crackdown on Syria’s Pro-Democracy Protestors


By Andrew J. Tabler

Congressional Testimony

July 12, 2011

On July 12, 2011, Andrew J. Tabler, the Next Generation fellow in The Washington Institute’s Program on Arab Politics, testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. The following is an excerpt from his prepared remarks.


“Recently, I journeyed to Lebanon’s Wadi Khaled to visit with Syrian refugees who fled from the Sunni Muslim village of Tal Kalakh, which is surrounded by a constellation of villages dominated by Alawites — the heterodox offshoot of Shia Islam from which the Asad regime hails. What I found was appalling: a people traumatized by roving gangs predominantly made up of Alawites called the shabbiha or “ghosts,” who threatened to kill or assault protestors in the Syrian countryside and around the coastal cities. Sporting shaved heads and black outfits mixed with camouflage, these groups are believed to report directly to members of the Asad family…”

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