Rights group: Civilian deaths in Syria rise to 500

Jailed lawyer says thousands also arrested and missing; Syrian FM to present ambassadors proof of "conspiracy to destabilize gov't."

Syria massacres protest 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Syria massacres protest 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMMAN - Syrian security forces have killed at least 500 civilians in a crackdown on a "peaceful democratic uprising", Syrian human rights organization Sawasiah said on Thursday.
Sawasiah, founded by jailed Syrian human rights lawyer Mohannad al-Hassani, also said thousands of Syrians have been arrested and scores have gone missing after demonstrations demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption began almost six weeks ago.
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"We call on civilized governments to take action to stop the bloodbath in Syria and to reign in the Syrian regime and halt its murders, torture, sieges and arrests. We have the names of at least 500 confirmed killed," Sawasiah said in a statement sent to Reuters.
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
"The regime continues its organized campaign of killings against its own people with impunity. The shelling of Deraa is a crime against humanity," the statement said, referring to the army using tanks to crush resistance in the city of Deraa, where the protests began.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday was expected to convene a meeting with ambassadors from the United States and several European countries to show them what Syrian officials are saying is evidence of an organized conspiracy to destabilize the government, Israel Radio reported.
In Turkey, officials said events in Syria were "very troubling" to Ankara, and that sanctions would not help the situation.
A Turkish official told AFP that if Assad's regime falls, Ankara would be forced to reconsider its close relations with Damascus.