Syrian forces kill 11, protesters plead for help

Activists say nine of killings took place in Homs, two others in Damascus suburbs; "Help Syria, it's bleeding," signs read near capital.

By REUTERS
September 24, 2011 02:37
2 minute read.
Protesters in Syrian city of Ibid

Protesters in Syrian city of Ibid 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout)

AMMAN - Syrian forces shot dead 11 protesters when they fired live ammunition to disperse pro-democracy demonstrations after Friday prayers, activists said.

Across Syria, crowds of protesters shouted slogans and carried placards pleading for the world to help them against a bloody crackdown by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.

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"Help Syria. It is bleeding," read placards carried by protesters in the southern Damascus suburb of Hajar al-Aswad, home to tens of thousands of refugees from the Golan heights, about 30 km (20 miles) away.

The slogans and placards were on video footage aired by Syrian residents on the Internet. Syrian authorities expelled most independent media when the uprising began in March.

Faced with expanding street protests demanding an end to 41 years of Assad family rule, Assad has sent troops and tanks into cities and towns across the country of 20 million at the heart of the Arab Middle East.

Citing reports from the street, activists said nine of the killings occurred in the province of Homs, scene of some of the largest demonstrations demanding Assad's ouster. Two other protesters were shot dead in suburbs of Damascus.

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"We have seen more of an all-out effort to crush Homs. But the city is big and its countryside has also risen," said activist Hassan, who gave only his first name.

Protesters also came under attack in the tribal region of Deir al-Zor on the border with Iraq and the city of Hama, activists said.

Human rights organizations and Western diplomats have reported assassinations of protest leaders, torture of civilians and killings of political prisoners in the last two weeks that have sparked international outrage.

Syria's ruling elite have fallen under Western sanctions that include the small but important oil sector on their target list. China and Russia have shielded Assad from Western proposals for U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The United States and Europe have shown little sign of thinking about repeating the sort of military intervention that was instrumental in the demise of Libya's Muammar Gaddaffi.

"The opposition is against foreign military intervention. But we want protection in any form to stop the slaughter," Alaa Youssef, an activist in the northwestern province of Idlib on the border with Turkey, told al Jazeera television.

Most Syrian opposition figures say they do not want foreign military intervention but would welcome "international protection" to prevent the killing of civilians.

The military crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people, including 100 children, according to the United Nations, while authorities say 700 police and army have been killed by "terrorists" and "mutineers".

Alarmed by reports of increasing violence by Assad's forces, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Syrian authorities "to end their brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators, end their acts of reprisal against activists and their families."


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