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25 Syrian Protesters Killed by Troops in Dera'a, Snipers Kill 12 Mourners During a Damascus Funeral

April 25, 2011

25 Syrians shot dead in southern town of Dara'a

DAMASCUS, April 25, 2011 (Xinhua) --

At least 25 Syrians were shot dead by troops and security forces on Monday in the town of Dara'a, 100 km to the capital Damascus, pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV reported.

Hundreds of troops and security forces backed with tanks and armored vehicles entered the town Monday morning from four directions. The telecommunication and electricity were cut, an eyewitness was quoted by al-Jazeera as saying.

State-run Al-Ekhbariya TV reported that 10 soldiers were killed in an ambush set by an armed group while army troops were entering the town to impose stability.

Meanwhile, a Jordanian senior official said that Syria closed two main border crossings at Dara'a and Nassib on the Syrian side, following the deployment of Syrian army tanks in Dara'a.

The statement was denied by the Syrian Interior Ministry which told Xinhua that border crossings with all Syria's neighboring states were open as the transit traffic to and from the country is normal.

The U.S President Barak Obama's administration slammed on Monday the Syrian authorities' crack down on citizens, saying it was considering a range of options against the Damascus, including possible sanctions on senior officials.

Syria is witnessing unprecedented protests that erupted five weeks ago in Dara'a and spread into other parts of the country, causing the death of some 340 so far according to human rights reports.

Syrian Armored Troops Kill 5 Protesters in Dera'a, Snipers Kill 12 Mourners During a Damascus Funeral

Armored troops move into Dera'a in latest crackdown
By FRANCE 24 (video)
News Wires (text)
April 25, 2011

Syrian troops and tanks poured into Dera'a on Monday, seeking to crush protesters in the city where a month-long uprising against the autocratic 11-year rule of President Bashar al-Assad first erupted.
Activists said at least five people were killed in the first reported use of tanks inside a population centre since peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations began in the southern town, close to the border with Jordan, on March 18.
One witness told Reuters he saw bodies in the street near the main mosque after hundreds of soldiers poured into Dera'a.
A leading human rights campaigner said security forces, which also swept into the restive Damascus suburb of Douma, were waging a savage war designed to annihilate Syrias democrats.
Security forces have killed more than 350 civilians since unrest broke out in Dera'a, rights groups say. A third of the victims were shot in the past three days as the scale and breadth of a popular revolt against Assad grew.
Assad lifted Syrias 48-year state of emergency on Thursday but activists say the violence the following day, when 100 people were killed during protests across the country, showed he was not serious about addressing calls for political freedom.
Mondays raids on Dera'a and Douma suggested Assad, who assumed power when his father died in 2000 after ruling Syria with an iron fist for 30 years, was determined to crush the opposition by force.
The witness in Dera'a told Reuters he could see bodies lying in a main street near the Omari mosque after eight tanks and two armoured vehicles deployed in the old quarter of the city.
People are taking cover in homes. I could see two bodies near the mosque and no one was able to go out and drag them away, the witness said.
Snipers were posted on government buildings, and security forces in army fatigues had been shooting at random at houses since the tanks moved in just after dawn prayers, he said.
Tanks at the main entry points to Deraa also shelled targets in the city, a resident named Mohsen told Al Jazeera, which showed a cloud of black smoke hanging over buildings. People cant move from one street to another because of the shelling.
Opposition activist Ammar Qurabi said five people were confirmed killed in Deraa. Abdallah Abazaid, another activist, told Al Arabiya television there were 20 martyrs, and that five officers and 10 soldiers refused orders to shoot residents.
They have quit their positions because they found us unarmed, Abazaid said. His comments about army defections could not be confirmed but another witness told Al Jazeera television that a unit commander and his troops fired on their own side, apparently to allow people to drag the wounded from the street.
Foreign journalists have mostly been expelled from the country, making it impossible to verify the situation on the ground. Grisly footage posted on the Internet by demonstrators in recent days appears to show troops firing on unarmed crowds.
Officials have blamed armed groups for the violence and say dozens of soldiers and police have been killed.
Outrageous violence
Assad has deepened his father Hafez al-Assads alliance with Iran, clawed back influence in Lebanon and backed Hezbollah and Hamas militants, but he has kept Syrias front line with Israel quiet and held indirect peace talks with the Jewish state.
Western criticism of the crackdown was initially muted, partly because of fears that a collapse of his minority Alawite rule in the majority Sunni country might lead to sectarian conflict. But on Friday President Barack Obama urged Assad to stop the outrageous use of violence to quell protests.
Suhair al-Attasi, a leading Syrian human rights campaigner, said authorities had launched a savage war designed to annihilate Syrias democrats.
President Assads intentions have been clear since he came out publicy saying he is prepared for war, Atassi said, referring to a March 31 speech to parliament.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay denounced the escalation of violence and called for detained activists and political prisoners to be released.
The first step now is to immediately halt the use of violence, then to conduct a full and independent investigation into the killings, including the alleged killing of military and security officers, and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Writers from all Syrias main sects issued a declaration denouncing the crackdown and urging intellectuals who have not broken the barrier of fear to make a clear stand.
We condemn the violent, oppressive practices of the Syrian regime against the protesters and mourn the martyrs of the uprising, said Mondays declaration, signed by 102 writers and journalists, in Syria and in exile.
As well as the crackdown in Deraa and Douma, activists said troops and gunmen loyal to Assad had shot dead at least 13 civilians since they swept into the Mediterranean town of Jabla on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
The forces deployed in the old Sunni quarter of Jabla after a pro-democracy protest and a warning by the governor of the province against any public assembly, rights campaigners said.
A wave of arrests since Fridays demonstrations continued on Monday, the SOHR said, saying more people had been detained in the provinces of Idlib, Deir al-Zor and Raqqa.
Officials in neighbouring Jordan said Syria closed all land border crossings between the two countries on Monday, cutting a major transit point for freight between Turkey and Europe and the Gulf.

Mourners killed as snipers fire on funeral marches

News Wires (text)  

France 24, April 25, 2011


Syrian forces killed at least 12 people on Saturday when they fired on mourners calling for the end of President Bashar al-Assads rule at mass funerals of pro-democracy protesters shot a day earlier.

Witnesses said the mourners were chanting Bashar al-Assad, you traitor! Long live Syria, down with Bashar!

Friday was by far the bloodiest day in over a month of demonstrations to demand political freedoms and an end to corruption, with at least 100 people killed, said two activists.

The protests went ahead despite Assads decision this week to lift emergency law, in place since his Baath Party seized power 48 years ago. Two lawmakers and a preacher also resigned in protest at the killings of demonstrators.

Aided by his family and a pervasive security apparatus, Assad, 45, has absolute power, having ignored demands to transform the anachronistic autocratic system he inherited when he succeeded his late father, president Hafez al-Assad, in 2000.

Independent human rights organization Sawasiah said security forces killed at least 12 people during the funerals in Damascus and surrounding areas and near the southern town of Izraa.

There was a heavy volley of gunfire in our direction as we approached Izraa to join the funerals of martyrs, a witness in Izraa told Reuters.

One of the lawmakers to resign, Naser Hariri, said Assads security forces were unleashing a frenzy of killings in cold blood. Khalil al-Rifaei also quit the rubber-stamp assembly.

Security forces are sowing divisions and sectarian strife among Syrians, Muslim and Christian, who are united in their demands for reforms and freedom, Hariri told Reuters.

Rezq Abdulrahman Abazeid, the government-appointed mufti, or Muslim preacher, for Deraa also resigned.

Being assigned to give fatwas (religious edicts), I submit my resignation as a result of the fall of victims and martyrs by police fire, he told Al Jazeera.

As well as the unrest at funerals in areas near Damascus, Assads seat of power remained tense on Saturday and many people stayed indoors, one activist told Reuters from the capital.

This is becoming like a snowball and getting bigger and bigger every week. Anger is rising, the street is boiling, he said.

Crackdown condemned

In the Douma suburb of the city, security forces opened fire at a funeral, wounding three people, witnesses there said, and mourners in Harasta, a town near Damascus, came under fire from security forces, before staging a sit-in to demand the release of detainees arrested in the past few weeks.

Protesters staged another sit-in after a funeral for four people from Irbeen, near Damascus. We are not leaving until the political prisoners are released, one protester said by phone.

The official SANA news agency said five members of the security forces in the town of Nawa, near Deraa, were killed when they came under attack from what it called an armed criminal group. It said two gang members were killed.

It said a military roadblock in Izraa was also was attacked and security forces killed one of the armed criminal group.

Fridays violence, in areas stretching from the port city of Latakia to Homs, Hama, Damascus and the southern village of Izraa, brings the death toll to more than 300, according to activists, since unrest broke out on March 18 in Deraa.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Fridays violence and accused Assad of seeking help from Iran. A Syrian government source said in a statement published on official state media Obamas statement was not based on objective vision.

This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now, Obama said in a statement. Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syrias citizens.

Frances Foreign Ministry said Paris was deeply concerned.

Syrian authorities must give up the use of violence against their citizens. We again call on them to commit without delay to an inclusive political dialogue and to achieve the reforms legitimately demanded by the Syrian people, it said.

A statement by the Local Coordination Committees, a grouping of activists coordinating protests, said the end of emergency law was futile without the release of thousands of political prisoners, most held without trial, and the dismantling of the security apparatus.

In their first joint statement since the protests erupted last month, activists said the abolition of the Baath Partys monopoly on power and the establishment of a democratic political system was central to ending repression in Syria.

Amnesty International said Syrian authorities have again responded to peaceful calls for change with bullets and batons.

They must immediately halt their attacks on peaceful protesters and instead allow Syrians to gather freely as international law demands, said Malcolm Smart, Amnesty Internationals Middle East and North Africa director.

SYRIA Western leaders condemn violence against protesters

SYRIA Bloodiest day yet for Syria's anti-regime protesters

SYRIA Syria braces for further protests

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