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Mr. Abdulhamid said, however, that this step would likely not quiet the protests.

“It’s too little, too late,” he said. “It will frankly not satisfy anybody.”

The Arab cable news network Al Arabiya reported Sunday that the government in Damascus will resign, a move similar to Hosni Mubarak’s last-ditch effort in February to save his regime.

Mr. Abdulhamid said the protests in Syria are organized by a group of social-media-savvy activists inspired and in contact with other Web activists who brought down the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes.

“It’s a diffuse leadership at this stage,” he said. “The people who are leading this uprising are youth activists in their teens and 20s. They have taken to Facebook and are networking with each other and others in the Arab world, asking for advice from others who have had success in other places.”

Mr. Abdulhamid said he initially thought the best time to call for protests would be in the summer, but the date was changed to March 15.

“I was hoping to push this to the summer, but the young people wanted to move now, and we agreed on March 15,” he said. “Lo and behold, this happened, and it is happening.”

One tactic the demonstrators are using is Web-based video. A particularly popular video that was put online late last week claims to show Mr. Assad’s brother, Maher Assad, walking over the corpses of political prisoners who were killed in the 2008 crackdown in the Sednaya prison in Daraa.

“This has made its way throughout the Internet,” Mr. Abdulhamid said. “One of the soldiers who was there took the video. It has been blocked because it is so graphic, so we changed the accounts, and we put it on Facebook, too.”

Mr. Abdulhamid said Mrs. Clinton was correct for now to tone down the uprisings in Syria, but not all observers agreed.

A senior Republican Senate aide said, “This is an opportunity to get rid of an enemy of America. And this administration is playing a repeat of their inaction on Iran in 2009.”

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” cautioned against comparing the uprising in Syria to the anti-government actions in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

“Every one of these countries is different,” Mr. McCain said. “Let’s give moral support to these [protesters] in Syria, but let’s not take our eye off Egypt. Egypt is the key.”

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said the events transpiring in Libya should send a strong message to the Syrian dictator.

“If he turns his weapons on his own people, he runs the risk,” Mr. Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

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