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Activists in Syria say authorities are taking strict measures, closing areas and setting up checkpoints as the opposition called for protests throughout the country on Friday May 13, 2011., AP Photo.
After fleeing with his family from Syria in fear of his life, a former officer in Bashar al-Assad’s military tells of manipulation and brutality in the ongoing crackdown.Abu Hamid takes a long drag from a hand-rolled cigarette and exhales. “The Syrian Army doesn't defend the country or the nation,” he says, wagging a thick index finger. “This is the [Bashar] Assad Army. They are allowed to do everything to protect the regime.” Abu Hamid, a stocky 42-year-old with a salt-and-pepper beard, should know. Until recently, he served as a first lieutenant in the Syrian Army, based in the city of Homs. Disgusted by the Army crackdown, Abu Hamid, a 23-year veteran of the military, ditched his uniform and escaped from Syria to Lebanon with his family one month ago.
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