Monday, May 23, 2011

Syrian forces shoot dead 30 in protests: lawyer | Reuters

Location map of SyriaImage via Wikipedia

(Reuters) - Syrian security forces shot dead at least 30 demonstrators on Friday during protests that broke out across the country in defiance of a military crackdown which has killed hundreds of people, a rights activist said.
Other activists reported demonstrations across Syria, from Banias and Latakia on the Mediterranean coast to the oil producing region of Deir al-Zor, Qamishli in the Kurdish east and the Hauran Plain in the south, one day after the United States told President Bashar al-Assad to reform or step down.
Syria has barred most international media since the protests broke out two months ago, making it impossible to verify independently accounts from activists and officials.
"No dialogue with tanks," said banners carried by Kurdish protesters who shouted "azadi," the Kurdish word for freedom, rejecting promises by the authorities for a national dialogue, a witness said.
Protests erupted in Damascus suburbs and the capital's Barzeh district, where two witnesses said security forces fired at protesters and chased them in the streets.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said at least 831 civilians had been killed since the uprising against autocratic rule erupted in the southern city of Deraa nine weeks ago. It said at least 10,000 people had been arrested, including hundreds across Syria on Friday.
Some protesters were calling for freedom, activists said, while others called for "the overthrow of the regime," the slogan of uprisings which toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.
Human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouna said 12 people were killed in the town of Maaret al-Numan, south of Syria's second city Aleppo. Tanks had entered the town earlier in the day to disperse protesters.
She said another 11 were killed in the central city of Homs.
She said seven others were killed in Deraa, Latakia, the Damascus suburbs and Hama, where Assad's father, the late president Hafez al-Assad, sent the military to crush an armed Islamist uprising in the 1980s.
Amateur video uploaded by activists, who said it was filmed in Homs, showed scores of marchers scattering as gunfire erupted. A police car was left burning in the street.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had names of at least 21 protesters killed on Friday.
The United States, which has condemned the crackdown as barbaric, imposed targeted sanctions against Assad this week and President Barack Obama said on Thursday Syria must move away from "the path of murder and mass arrest."
"The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy," Obama said. "President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition or get out of the way."
Despite strong words from the White House, the West has so far taken only small steps to isolate Assad when compared to its bombing campaign against Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi, also accused of killing protesters.

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