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21 Aug, 2011 06:33

Syrian townspeople welcome army to rout “gangs”

This week pressure has been mounting again on the Syrian leader Bashar Assad. The US and European leaders called on him to step down, but Russia refused to support the demand, saying Assad should be given time to implement promised reforms.

The pressure has come in response to a military crackdown on anti-regime protesters. But as RT's Maria Finoshina reports from the frontline, while the West sees the government's action as oppression, some in Syria see it as a liberation.Deir Ez-Zor in the East of the country has become the last Syrian city the army left after clearing out extremists that had been terrorizing its residents for weeks, the military claim.“These bandits blocked the roads, put up barricades. It became a ghost-city – we were hiding, we were just like hostages,” a local resident told RT.Soldiers of the Syrian army are leaving the city of Deir Ez-Zor near the Iraqi border. The military says the operation there is now over – the city has been freed from armed groups. People are welcoming them as the victors.But while tanks have been trying to make their way through jubilant crowds, thousands of kilometers away, in the White House, a decision has already matured. President Bashar  Assad is seen the one who is terrorizing the Syrian people, and that should end.“The transition to democracy in Syria has begun, and it’s time for Assad to get out of the way,” the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.Not everybody has agreed though. Moscow has insisted that Assad should be given time to implement promised changes. His recent decisions to release political prisoners, repeal emergency laws, and allow peaceful demonstrations have indicated the right direction. But external pressure could still crush the fragile transition.“Reforms will give force to Syria, it will make the country stronger. But Syria’s enemies don’t want Syria to be strong, America for instance,” says Anwar Raja, a political analyst from Deir Ez-Zor. “They are sick and tired of a strong Syria, and they want to weaken it. They don’t want reforms – they need instability and chaos across the country, as long as possible, and their pressure works for it.”With contradictory reports about policemen and security officers killed across the country and the army’s continuing crackdown on protestors, despite President Assad’s pledges to the UN to stop military operations, the Syrian people no longer know who to trust and what to believe. With their country at the crossroads again, their only weapon is patience