The recently released book, Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al-Shami mentions that the Assad regime tried to stir up sectarian tensions among the Syrian people. During the mass protests the Assad regime would have been highly motivated to incite division within the initially peaceful protest movement to keep them divided among themselves in order to weaken opposition to the Assad regime.
But the horror was not evenly applied. Kurds in the north-east were rarely met by bullets, and demonstrators in central Damascus were dispersed by clubs and tear gas rather than live fire. The sons and daughters of the rich, and areas with large minority populations, were treated more gently. In the years to come this pattern would contribute greatly to Sunni resentment. (Chapter 3.)At one point while discussing events in Homs the following observation is made.
... (it was often easier for minorities to cross regime checkpoints). (Chapter 4.)The Assad regime tried to weaken the protesters which later turned into an armed insurgency by stoking sectarian tensions. But in some instances some in the opposition were able to use this bias to outwit regime forces.
Later in August 2012 the Assad regime withdrew from Kurdish areas of Syria thus allowing the Democratic Union Party, a party closely affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party in Turkey, to take over those areas. The Democratic Union Party established their rule within Kurdish areas. The area was later named Rojava. The Assad regime left Rojava and went after Syrian Arabs.
Unlike Rojava, the 'liberated' Arab areas were subjected to continuous war. (Chapter 5.)This may have been a divide and conquer stratagem. The Assad regime attacked one particular type of anti-Assad movement and left others alone. Unfortunately this had the effect of inciting sectarian tensions.
Alas this tendency to respond differently based on the sectarian nature of those repressed contributed to the rise of increasingly sectarian militias. The abused were imitating the abusers within the Assad regime.
Tragically the Syrian people continue to suffer from the catastrophe imposed upon them by the Assad regime's campaign of violence and repression. A recent UN report noted that the Assad regime's treatment of prisoners may amount to extermination.
In recent days many Syrians have fled for their lives from Aleppo in the wake of severe bombardment and advances by the Assad regime. This will further contribute to the ongoing refugee crisis.
The Syrian people deserve to live in peace and safety. It is just so terrible.