US & World

In Syria: 'Difficult To Know Exactly Which Way It Will Go'

One day the government cracks down hard on protesters — killing many. The next day it seems to offer concessions. And now journalists have been ordered to stay away from the city where protests have been centered.

There's word from Syria this morning, via The Associated Press, that "protesters shouting for freedom gathered in the capital and other areas around the country Friday as security forces ordered journalists to leave a southern city where a brutal weeklong siege on demonstrations killed dozens of people."

In that southern city, Daraa, "small crowds gathered ... on Friday after calls to attend the funerals of people killed in unprecedented anti-government protests, but there was no immediate sign of protests," Reuters says.

The news from Syria in recent days has varied dramatically — one day there are reports that police shot and killed many of those who have been demanding reforms, the next day the government is saying that it will consider lifting the decades-old emergency laws that govern life there.

On Morning Edition, Damascus-based reporter Phil Sands of The National (a newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates) told show host Renee Montagne that it's "difficult to know exactly" which way things will go in Syria because of the "up and down" way the government of President Bashar Assad has been responding to the protests

As Sands tells Renee, the Assad regime has been sending very mixed signals. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit