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Syrian Revolution:

Protests Continue Demanding Overthrow of Assad's Dictatorial Regime

September 19, 2011

Videos of today's protests:

More bloodshed in Syria raid

Maan, Published today (updated) 19/09/2011 21:45


Syrian security forces killed five people during a raid in the flashpoint central province of Homs on Monday as the opposition scrambled to organize against the regime, activists said.

In New York, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe accused Syria of "crimes against humanity" and slammed the UN Security Council for failing to take a strong stand on the regime's bloody crackdown against dissent.

His remarks came as President Bashar Assad's forces pursued their repression of anti-regime protesters, killing five in the town of Houla and conducting arrests in other parts of the country, activists said.

"Five residents, including a woman, were shot dead on Monday by security forces, who have been conducting a sweep in Houla since Sunday," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

A 26-year-old man died of his wounds on Monday after being among a group of people whom security forces shot at the night before in the town of Irbin, near Damascus, the Britain-based activist group said earlier.

Security forces also opened fire on hundreds of demonstrators in two other towns in Homs, and carried out arrests in the second city Aleppo, eastern Deir Ezzor and the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, it said.

According to UN estimates at least 2,600 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in the Damascus regime's crackdown on pro-democracy protests since the movement was launched six months ago on March 15.

Assad and his Baath-dominated government have defended the repression, saying they are battling "armed terrorist gangs" and that they will proceed with reforms when Syria is rid of "chaos."

Since the anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March, several opposition groups have emerged united in their call for the ouster of Assad's autocratic regime but have been divided about how to go about achieving it.

The latest group, the Syrian Coalition of Secular and Democratic Forces, is meeting in Paris where it issued a statement on Monday urging the international community to protect civilians against the repression.

The appeal -- an implicit call for foreign intervention -- conflicted with other pleas by opposition groups for an end to the bloodshed in Syria and the launch of political, economic and social reforms.

"We call on the international community to adopt a United Nations resolution to protect civilians," said a statement modeled on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 that authorized international action in Libya.

The CSDF brings together a dozen parties and political figures representing non-Islamist opposition groups from various Kurdish and Arab, Christian and Muslim communities.

Other opposition groups include the National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Marxists and independents such as writer Michel Kilo and economist Aref Dalila.

"We need to end the tyrannical security regime. We must overthrow the tyranny and the security [agents]," Hassan Abdel Azim, a senior member of the group said on Sunday after meetings near Damascus.

On Thursday, as Syria marked six months of anti-regime protests, opposition figures identified members of the "Syrian National Council," revealing the names of just 72 of the 140-strong body for security reasons.

Two more opposition groups were set up in Turkey at the end of August -- the mainly Islamist "National Council" and the "National Council of Syrian Transition" headed by Burhan Ghaliyoun, a Paris-based academic.

Juppe said on Monday that "crimes against humanity are committed in Syria. The silence of the Security Council is unacceptable."

Russia -- one of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- has resisted attempts led by the United States and EU nations to issue a resolution condemning Syria, a key ally and buyer of Russian weapons.

Syria opposition vows protests until regime ousted

Maan, Published today (updated) 19/09/2011 18:35


Opponents of Bashar al-Assad vowed on Sunday to overthrow his "tyrannical" regime, as the embattled president met Russian lawmakers trying to help find a solution to the crisis in Syria.

"We need to end the tyrannical security regime. We must overthrow the tyranny and the security (agents)," Hassan Abdel Azim, a senior member of the opposition National Coordinating Committee for Democratic change, told reporters.

"We welcome all those who have no blood on their hands," he told a news conference a day after the group met near the capital.

The group includes opposition parties of various ideologies, including Arab and Kurdish nationalists, Marxists and independent figures such as writer Michel Kilo and economist Aref Dalila.

Syria has been rocked by protests against Assad's regime that began on March 15 and triggered a brutal crackdown in which the United Nations says 2,600 people have been killed.

A delegation of Russian lawmakers is in the country in a bid to broker an end to the violence.

Assad told them he welcomes the "balanced and constructive Russian position toward the security and stability of Syria," the state-run SANA news agency reported.

But Assad, who has blamed "armed terrorist gangs" for the violence rocking his country, also warned against "any foreign intervention that threatens to divide states in the region."

Ilyas Umakhanov, deputy head of Russia's upper house of parliament, said "the country's leadership understands that one can only overcome a political crisis by uniting all the country's healthy political forces," Russia's Interfax news agency said.

"We once again saw for ourselves that the country's leadership intends to firmly move along the path of political reforms, create all the necessary conditions to consolidate society and all the patriotic forces of the country," Umakhanov was quoted as saying after meeting Assad.

Russia has opposed efforts led by the United States and the European Union to push for a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian regime over its deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The opposition, meanwhile, is trying to unite against the regime.

Opponents plan to announce the formation of a coalition that includes the Coordinating Committee, liberal parties of the opposition "Damascus Declaration," the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and independent Islamists.

Two opposition groups were set up in Turkey at the end of August: the mostly Islamist "National Council" and the "National Council of Syrian Transition" headed by Burhan Ghaliyoun, a Paris-based academic.

"For the overthrow of the tyrannical and corrupt security regime and for democratic change, the peaceful revolution of the Syrian people must continue," said a statement read Sunday by Abdel Aziz Khayer of the Coordinating Committee.

"We must end the military solution, allow peaceful protests, withdraw the army to the barracks, try those responsible for the massacre of protesters, release all political prisoners and begin reconciliation between the army and the people," it added.

Another committee member, Rajaa Nasser, said that "all movements of the Syrian opposition agree on the need for change. The majority reject any military intervention" in Syria, he added.

Samir Aita, editor of Le Monde Diplomatique in Arabic and European representative of the Coordinating Committee, announced a September 23 meeting in Berlin.

"It is necessary to unify (opposition) efforts for the change to happen," he said, adding that it was important that the various opposition groupings should "unite around common goals."

Saturday's meeting elected an 80-member central council, 25 percent of them "young revolutionaries."

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that four people, including an 11-year-old boy, shot in recent raids died on Sunday of their wounds.

As schools reopened, students demonstrated against the regime in the central city of Homs and security forces arrested 70 civilians, relatives of people wanted by the regime, in the northwestern province of Idlib, it said.

The official SANA news agency also reported that the annual Damascus film festival set for October has been canceled because of the unrest.

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