A man argues with Government minders during a visit by international journalists. Everytime a journalist talked to a local, a minder stood close by and the intimidated person stopped talking. The Governor of Deraa, Mohammed Khalil Al Khanous, takes a phone call in his heavily guarded office. Protests against the ruling Baathist regime erupted in March 2011and although they were peacefully government forces violently repressed them. In response to being commanded to shoot unarmed civilians large numbers of men deserted the army and formed the Free Syrian Army and an armed uprising began with major clashes taking place in early 2012.