"Extremists have sought to generate a sectarian war," a presidential
The adviser, Buthaina Shaaban, said Islamists were attacking Alawites
and Christians in the port city of Latakia. Ms. Shaaban said alleged
Brotherhood supporters were joining Palestinians from a nearby refugee
camp in assaulting civilians in Latakia.
Shaaban has been regularly issuing statements. President Assad has not yet addressed the nation.
Opposition sources said the regime's strategy is to frame the demonstrations as sectarian conflict.
The Brotherhood was said to have taken a low profile amid the growing
unrest, which has included the increasing use of live fire by security
Islamic sources said the Brotherhood did not want to give Assad a pretext
to massacre its members. So far, 61 people have been reported killed over
the last 10 days.
"The minute Assad can show that the Brotherhood is playing a significant
role then he could justify any atrocity under the pretext of
counter-terrorism," an exiled Brotherhood source said.
Latakia, 350 kilometers northwest of Damascus, has become the latest
battleground between Assad's security forces and regime opponents. Officials
said gangs of gunmen have been firing toward civilians and officers in the
resort city, which contains a major naval port.
Assad has ordered the Syrian Army to regain control over Latakia, with a
population of 450,000. Officials said they have captured Sunni foreigners,
including an American, believed to have helped foment the revolt.