L. A. is a writer who travels frequently to Syria.


Syrians Under Siege

An anti-government protester holding up a bloodied hand during a funeral procession for slain activists in Izraa, Syria, Saturday, April 23, 2011. The image was taken on a mobile phone by a citizen journalist.

Across Syria, checkpoints in protest areas have been set up to search people for mobile phone pictures and footage of the violence. Telephone and Internet networks have been cut, and few people have been able to leave or contact the outside world. There are reports of government snipers firing on pedestrians, and residents no longer dare leave their homes. Foreign journalists, who in recent weeks have been harassed and dissuaded from pursuing their stories (and in a few cases arrested and beaten), have now been expelled. The dearth of information has raised questions about who is involved in the protests and what prospects they might have—in the face of such repression—to bring about a broader change. While it has been increasingly difficult to get a full picture of the towns and cities where the government has responded with force, some insights can be gained from the situation in Douma, a Damascus suburb and flash point in the protests, where I was able to visit shortly before the most recent violence.