What's the Latest Development?

Ninw months into Syria's uprising and the peaceful protests against the regime of Bashar Assad are now accompanied by a growing insurgency. Activists say that 27 loyalists were killed on Thursday in clashes with army defectors in the southern Hauran region. A day earlier eight soldiers were killed after defectors ambushed a military convoy close to Hama.

What's the Big Idea?

In a flourish of sham democracy, local elections were held on Monday December 12th (Syrian polls are infrequent and usually rigged). In many areas no-one voted, reports The Economist. But for all the regime's bluster, the facade of normality is becoming harder to sustain. Sanctions are hurting. In Damascus government employees are not being paid, according to some. Protesters are seeking peaceful ways to keep the uprising going but civil disobedience is on the rise.

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