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Syria Spirals down | Juan Cole

The news out of Syria is bad and worse. The regime is being accused of widespread torture, and it is having to fight the rebels on the doorstep of the capital.

Human Rights Watch has mapped out the torture centers used by the Syrian government and identified the various techniques used on dissidents by the secret police. SMH has a good summary. Human Rights Watch says that the evidence is strong that the Syrian state is systematically practicing torture on a significant scale, and points out that this policy is a crime against humanity.

The Syrian military deployed helicopter gunships againstDouma on Monday, a town on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus. Syrian troops had already stormed the town and there were bodies in the street, so the helicopters were involved in a mop-up operation.

In a one-day record, some 85 Syrian military personnel escaped to Turkey Monday, along with 300 family members. Six were officers, and one was a brigadier general (a one-star in American terms, i.e. not very high ranking).

Also on Monday, a television anchor for the regime news channel defected, and revealed that he had been for some time providing the opposition with the raw news stories