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Activists Tell Damascus Residents To Prepare For The 'Zero Hour'

With increased fighting in and around Damascus in recent weeks, Syrian activists have posted a video that calls on residents of the capital to prepare for what they say is a looming collapse of President Bashar Assad's regime.

The YouTube video, called "Zero Hour, Your Final Chance," promises an imminent battle in Damascus aimed at ousting Assad. It is filled with instructions on what to do to prepare for and survive such a battle.

The video calls for mass civil disobedience, general strikes and an intense psychological campaign to pressure army troops to abandon their posts and join the rebels.

"Dear soldier, many honorable men are still within your ranks. They are waiting for zero hour to defect. Ensure that you will be one of them," the narrator says to a background of motivational music.

"Every single one of us can create the dream. Rest assured that victory is within our reach for as long as we are one hand and one heart," the narrator adds. "Be with us at zero hour, and join in writing Syria's glory."

The video was made by a group of activists, most of whom remain anonymous for fear of reprisal by the government. So far, their Facebook page has more than 80,000 likes.

After 20 months of fighting, Assad's forces still control the capital and most major cities. However, the rebels have been gaining ground in recent weeks, and, in particular, there has been persistent fighting in the suburbs surrounding the capital. This has created a growing sense that Damascus could soon become a major battleground that could decide the fate of Assad's regime.

According to the video, the arrival of zero hour will be announced on coordinated Facebook pages and specific TV channels, and through mosques.

"Do not listen to rumors announced through other venues, as the regime will engage in a campaign of misinformation," the narrator warns.

Farhad Tammo, one of the activists involved in producing the video, says it is not intended to be prescriptive. However, the loosely linked groups of activists and rebel fighters are adhering to it.

"For example, documenting and archiving the names of those martyred [killed] and announcing them online, that's become a regular practice now for all activist networks," he said in a Skype interview.

Asked about when zero hour might arrive, he said:

"No one can know that for sure. But it all depends on when the rebels are ready for the final move on Damascus, and that's looking soon."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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