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Syria Snap Analysis: Will 22 July Be Marked by History as A Turning Point?

Hama, 22 July (Reuters)Friday, 22 July, will be remembered by the world because of acts of violence against people in Norway, first the bombing outside the Prime Minister's office in Oslo and then the shootings in Utoeya. Many have died as the country was terrorised.

But history may also make this day with a story which has even more significant effects.

In Syria, 22 July may one day be seen as a turning point. There were massive demonstrations in every major region, and in every major city, in the country. At least 11 people died, in the latest chapter of Arab Spring. I cover the developments of Arab Spring almost every weekday, and today ranks in my memory as one of the most impressive days of defiance I've seen yet.

See also Syria Video Special: Friday's Protests Across the Country --- Set 1
Syria Video Special: Friday's Protests Across the Country --- Set 2
Syria and Beyond: Friday's LiveBlog

In EA Worldview's first video set, we documented protests in Idlib in the northwest, Artouz (Damascus province), Binnish (northwest), a massive demonstration in Hama (claims of 650,000+ protesters in the streets), Aleppo, Saraqab (Idlib province), Qamishili (northeast), Horan (south), Kobanî (Ain Arab) and Serê Kaniyê (Ras al-Ain) in the Kurdish area of Syria, Kafr Nabl in the northwest, and the Midan section at the heart of Damascus.

In our second video set, we featured more protests in the Midan and Al-Qadam districts of Damascus, the suburbs of Damascus (Tal Rifaat, Harasta), huge crowds in Deir Ez Zor, northeast Syria --- where as many as 550,000 gathered --- Zabadani (north of Damascus), Idlib (northwest), Halfaya (Hama province), Jableh on the coast, Al-Raqqa, Lattakia, Homs, and the largest protest in Hama we've seen yet.

In one of the most important videos from Friday, Syrian security barged into the Amne Mosque in Aleppo, beating protesters. Perhaps even more importantly, the video posted below shows that military cadets joined the protesters in Aleppo, the second largest city in Syria, a city that has been unable to foster a sustained protest movement, but a city that erupted in protest today.

While concerns have been mounting that Syria is approaching a sectarian civil war, the Local Coordinating Committees rejected this idea this week, and the youth of Latakia released a statement stating that the Assad regime wanted sectarian violence, but the the opposition in Syria needed to respect minorities and remain united.

Friday, the Syrian regime may have been counting on divisions between the Kurds and the Arabs to hinder protests in northeastern Syria, but they have miscalculated. Security forces have attempted to disrupt protests in both Qawalishi and Hassake. An eyewitness tells Al Jazeera English:

There were rumours that the Kurds would not protest today because of disagreements with other opposition groups on the issue of naming a future Syria, the Syrian Arab Republic...The regime was betting on cracks emerging between Arabs and Kurds, but today’s demonstrations in the Kurdish areas prove that the Kurds still share the same united goals of the revolution.

The security forces have withdrawn from Hama and Deir Ez Zor. They are trying to quell the protests in Homs and around Damascus and Aleppo, but they are not succeeding. It is hard to imagine that the regime has any strongholds of significance left. Through crackdowns, and threats of sectarian violence, the protests have only grown in both scale, scope, and reach. To repeat the rhetorical question I asked on Friday; Where AREN'T they protesting in Syria?

And now the follow-up rhetorical question: how can the Assad regime possibly expect to survive this level of democratic upheaval?

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