Syria Protest Homs 311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Syrian forces killed at least 70 protesters on Friday, activists said, in the
bloodiest day since the start of an 11-week revolt against the authoritarian
rule of President Bashar Assad.
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Tens of thousands of protesters took to
the streets on Friday in defiance of security forces determined to crush the
Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, said at least 60 people were killed in Hama, where Assad’s father Hafez
crushed an armed revolt 29 years ago by killing up to 30,000 people and razing
parts of the city.
Internet access was restored Saturday after
authorities cut it off on Friday. Protests the day before were dubbed
“Children’s Friday” for the more than 30 children estimated to have been killed
since the Syrian revolt began in March.
A political activist in Hama said
tens of thousands of people were attending the funerals of dead protesters on
Saturday, and that more protests were planned later in the day.
very high in the city, people will never be silent or scared. The whole city is
shut today and people are calling for a three-day strike,” the activist, who
gave his name as Omar, told Reuters by phone from the city. “We expect protests
after the evening prayers.”
Residents and activists said that security
forces and snipers fired at demonstrators who thronged Hama on
Quoting an eyewitness, Al Jazeera reported that security forces
opened fire on a funeral procession of some 50,000 mourners Saturday in the
northern city of Maarat an- Numan. The channel reported that demonstrations were
held in four Damascus neighborhoods, as well as in and around the second city of
Syrian human rights group Sawasiah said one person was killed in
Damascus and two in the northwestern province of Idlib. Seven people were also
killed in the town of Rastan in central Syria, which has been under military
assault and besieged by tanks since Sunday.
“It is worth noting that Hama
and Idlib, where the biggest demonstrations occurred, used to be the stronghold
of the MuslimBrotherhood,” said one activist who declined to be named.
“The numbers of
people who took to the streets could be a message from the Brotherhood to the
regime that “now we are taking part in the revolution in full
The activist said protesters burned the Baath Party office in
Hama before the violence broke out.
Rights groups say security forces
have killed more than 1,000 civilians so far, provoking international outrage at
Assad’s ruthless handling of the demonstrators.
In Deraa, birthplace of
the revolt, hundreds defied a military curfew and held protests on Friday,
chanting “no dialogue with killers,” two residents in the city
Syrian forces also opened fire on demonstrations in the eastern
city of Deir al-Zor and in Damascus’s Barzeh district.
released on Saturday a prominent activist in jail since 2008, Abdulrahman
Ali Abdallah, in his 50s, had criticized Syria’s ally Iran. He was
a member of the Damascus Declaration, a rights movement named after a document
calling for a democratic constitution and an end of the Baath Party’s
five-decade monopoly on power.
Activists say there have been some
instances of citizens resisting security forces with personal weapons, and of
security police shooting soldiers who refused to fire at
Meanwhile, the UN chief on Friday demanded an immediate end
to the “violent repression” and human rights abuses by Syrian
Secretary-General Ban Kimoon “is deeply troubled by the continued
serious violations of human rights, including disturbing reports of the deaths
of children under torture, live ammunition and shelling,” UN spokeswoman Vannina
Maestracci told reporters.
She said Ban “takes note” of a promised
amnesty and call for national dialogue by the Syrian authorities, but added that
Ban reiterated his for call for a full, transparent and independent
investigation into the killings.
The UN Security Council is considering a
draft resolution condemning Syria that was circulated to its 15 members by
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal last week. Veto powers Russia and China
have made clear they dislike the idea of council involvement in what they see as
a domestic issue.
In Tehran, Iran’s Supreme Leader said the Islamic
Republic backs all Muslim uprisings except those stirred by the United States
and Israel. Without mentioning Syria by name, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said
Saturday, “If somewhere a movement is provoked by America and Zionists, we will
not support it. Wherever America and the Zionists enter the scene to topple a
regime and occupy a country, we are on the opposite side.”