All we can do at this point is report on the carnage. Christian Science Monitor:
Syrian troops attacked the city of Houleh, in central Syria and stormed Deir El Zour in eastern Syria Sunday. Both cities had seen large anti-government protests.
The Associated Press reports that a rights group claimed at least four people were killed Sunday in Houleh, while a local coordinating committee claims seven deaths. In Deir El Zour, an activist told the AP that troops stormed the city at 4 a.m., attacking from four sides and taking control of eight neighborhoods. The number of casualties is unclear because many people are being treated in homes and mosques when they cannot reach the hospital. "Human conditions in the city are very bad since it has been under siege for nine days," the activist told the AP. "There is lack of medicine, baby formula, food stuff and gasoline. The city is totally paralyzed."
Reuters reports that tanks have moved into the city, and quotes a resident who said that three people have died in the assault.
The New York Times reports that Assad's regime had until recently largely avoided attacking Deir El Zour out of a desire to avoid provoking the tribes there, because those tribes have wide influence and some of whom are well-armed.
"The government was very cautious to begin a military operation in our region because most of the tribes members are armed with AK-47s and rifles and they are ready to fight and not allow the regime to do the same thing as it did in Hama or Dara'a," an activist named Ammar told the Times, adding that an attack on Deir El Zour will provoke retaliation from tribes in other provinces.
Few, if any Syrian soldiers are wounded or killed in these attacks leading to the inescapable conclusion that the protestors are unarmed. This gives the lie to the government's oft repeated claim that "armed gangs" are causing the problem.
The violence doesn't seemed to be deterring the Syrian protest movement from keeping up the pressure on Assad. Despite promises to hold "free and fair election," the demonstrations won't stop until Assad has killed or jailed most of the leaders or he simply runs out of people to massacre.