Robert S. Ford serves as U.S. Ambassador to Syria.
The violence is not equal.
Yesterday I put out a note about the situation in Syria as I’ve witnessed it from the ground and since leaving the country. A terrible and tragic development in Syria is the use of heavy weaponry by the Assad regime against residential neighborhoods. For those unfamiliar with military equipment, the artillery used by the regime is designed for full scale warfare, and the regime is using it to pound civilian apartment buildings and homes from a distance. There is no evidence that the opposition — even those opposition members who have defected from the military — has access or has employed such heavy weapons. Those who defect from the military are often lucky to leave with only the rifle in their hands, fearful that those loyal to the regime will hunt them down for refusing to kill unarmed civilians. It’s also important to note the opposition began as a peaceful movement and it is still mostly a peaceful protest movement that has been met by the regime with imprisonment, torture and killing.
I mention this because some try to equate the violence perpetrated by the regime with the violence perpetrated by the opposition — it is unfair to do so when one side is using such heavy weaponry. Satellite photos have captured both the carnage and those causing it — the artillery is clearly there, it is clearly bombing entire neighborhoods, and it marks a new low for the Assad regime. We are intent on exposing the regime’s brutal tactics for the world to see.