Syrian protests 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Human Rights Watch is calling on the United Nations to investigate Syria for its violent crackdown on protesters that left at least 112 dead over the weekend, the Associated Press reported on Sunday.
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The New York-based group called on both the US and European Union to impose sanctions on those officials responsible for the violence.
Secret police raided homes near Damascus overnight, rights campaigners said on Sunday, as popular opposition to Syria's authoritarian President Bashar Assad increased following bloody attacks on pro-democracy protesters.
Security forces and gunmen loyal to Assad have killed at least 112 people over the last two days. They fired at protesters demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption on Friday and on mass funerals for victims a day later.
The attacks were the bloodiest, and the demonstrations the biggest,
since protests erupted in the southern city of Deraa near the border
with Jordan over five weeks ago.
Security operatives in plain clothes wielding assault rifles broke into
homes in the suburb of Harasta just after midnight on Sunday, arresting
activists in the area, known as the Ghouta, or the old garden district
of the capital.
Assad lifted an emergency law on Thursday, in place since his Baath
Party seized power 48 years ago, in a bid to appease protesters and ease
international criticism. Opponents say the crackdown that followed
shows the move was hollow.
"Bashar Assad, you traitor, you coward. Take your soldiers to the
Golan," protesters chanted on Saturday, chiding Assad for turning his
forces on his own people instead of recapturing the Golan Heights, where
the frontier with Israel has been quiet since a 1974 ceasefire.
Assad assumed power when his father died in 2000 after ruling Syria for
30 years. The hostile chants reflect a steady hardening of the demands
of protesters who first called for greater freedoms but now seek his
International condemnation of Assad has also intensified. Western
criticism was initially muted because of lingering hopes that Assad
might implement genuine reform and because revolution in Syria could
reshape the political map in the Middle East.
Assad has strengthened his father Hafez Assad's anti-Israel alliance
with Iran and supported Hezbollah and Hamas. He also re-established
Syrian influence in Lebanon and has held indirect peace talks with
"I deplore the increasing violence in Syria, and am appalled by the
killing of demonstrators by Syrian security forces," British Foreign
Secretary William Hague said on Sunday, advising all British nationals
to leave Syria.
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