There is mounting international condemnation of Syria's handling of pro-democracy protests - as more people are killed on the streets.
Bashar al-Assad's regime insists it is a foreign conspiracy against his country. Others suggest a more sinister third party is involved.
At least 27 people have been killed after Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters in the city of Daraa and the central province of Homs.
Witnesses say tear gas and live ammunition was used to disperse protesters as they gathered around Al Omari mosque.
Is there any truth in the theory purveyed by the president that saboteurs and conspirators rather than Syria's security forces are responsible for the deaths?
Inside Story discusses with guests: Marwan Kabalan, a professor of political science from Damascus University; Lamis Andoni, a writer and political commentator on Middle Eastern affairs; and Patrick Seale, a leading British writer on the Middle East and author of Asad of Syria.
This episode of Inside Story aired on Sunday, April 10, 2011.