A NEW ARMY
*Syrian Colonel Riyadh al-Aasad announced in a video posted on YouTube the formation of the "Free Syrian Army." Sitting with a uniform brandished with two stars on each epaulet, al-Aasad read a statement while surrounded by six uniformed soldiers. "The army's job is to protect the people," he said, calling the deaths of civilians "crimes." The goal of the Free Syrian Army, al-Aasad said, "is to bring down this regime."
A commenter wrote, "may God protect you, heroes and freedom fighters of the Syrian army."
BREAKING THE SILENCE
*The Syrian Revolution Facebook group posted fresh clips from the Friday protests, billed as the Friday of "Your Silence is Killing Us," an attempt to convince more Syrians to turn out to demonstrate. In the port city of Latakia, thousands gathered and put a twist on the cry heard all throughout the Arab Spring "the people want the regime to fall." During the Latakia protest, the unseen speaker threw out the following to the crowd: "the people want the president's execution." The chant starts out slowly, and at 20 seconds in, the entire crowd gets to their feet, clapping and chanting at full force. Comments below the clip: "Hama is with you to the death," "God bless the people of Latakia," "may God grant victory to you heroes."
*Here, an enormous protest in Hama, with people, faces not filmed, in the crowd holding up signs with the date "July 29th – your silence is killing us." More from Hama here. The crowd stretches as far as the eye can see, in every possible direction.
UNITY AND DIVISIONS
*Al Jazeera reports that hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square in what was being called a unity rally. The Islamists, who had stepped back from the protests still rocking Cairo and other cities, joined in what a Muslim Brotherhood official called a show of "unity of all political forces." But the "Friday of Unity" quickly began looking like what some called a "Friday of Division" as hardline Islamists held up signs reading "Islamic law above the constitution" and "there is no God but God." Preacher Hazem Shoman told the crowd that continuing the sit-in is a jihad for the sake of Allah. Several protesters told journalists covering the demonstration they felt the Islamists were creating divisions among Egyptians, and in Suez, the liberal Wafd party pulled out of the rally there because of "Islamist tactics," the official MENA agency reported.
photo credit: illustir