Sarkozy mad 311 R.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
PARIS/AMMAN - French President Nicolas Sarkozy
said on Thursday he wanted further sanctions against the Syrian
government after it continued to crack down on protesters.
Syrian forces killed two people on Thursday when they fired
at a pro-democracy protest in the provincial capital of Deir
al-Zor, residents said.RELATED
Defying the crackdown in Syria
Syrian forces kill four villagers in tank-backed assaults
"The attitude of the Syrian president is unacceptable ... we
must strengthen sanctions against the regime which is applying
the most brutal methods against its population," Sarkozy said in
a television interview.
The incident was part of an escalating crackdown against dissent in the tribal region bordering Iraq's Sunni heartland.
Military Intelligence agents also injured seven protesters who had
gathered in the main square of the city on the Euphrates river in the
A statue of President Bashar Assad's brother
Basel had stood in the square but security forces removed it two months
ago to stop demonstrators from smashing it.
"A crowd of 1,500 had shown up for the usual noon demonstration despite
the intense heat. Thousands more have descended on the square after the
killings, and there are now around 10,000 people there," said one
witness, a computer programmer who declined to give his name for fear of
Despite being the center of Syria's modest oil production, Deir al-Zor
is among the poorest regions in the country of 20 million people.
Little oil revenue is invested in the desert area and water shortages
over the last six years, which experts say have largely been caused by
mismanagement of resources and corruption, have decimated agricultural
This has weakened support for the Assad family, which has ruled Syria
with an iron fist since 1970, among Sunni tribes in Deir al-Zor, whom
the authorities had allowed to carry arms as a counterweight to a
Kurdish population further north.
Two overnight explosions hit minor gas pipelines in Deir al-Zor on
Wednesday, residents said. The official state news agency said a
pipeline had caught fire due to dry weather or a leak.
"It is very difficult to hit those pipelines with more troops deploying
in Deir al-Zor lately. People suspect the regime is behind the attacks
to discredit the democracy cause after months of peaceful
demonstrations," Sheikh Nawaf al-Khatib, a prominent local tribal
leader, told Reuters by phone.