7 killed in protests
AMMAN – Syrian security forces shot dead seven people today, rights campaigners said, as protesters defied a nationwide crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad which world leaders condemned.
Three protesters were killed in the central city of Homs, another three in the Damascus suburb of Qatana and one in the town of Zabadani, near the border with Lebanon, they said.
Troops also fired at protesters calling for the “overthrow of the regime” in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, a rights group and residents said.
Rights groups estimate at least 1 000 people have been killed over 10 weeks. Leaders at a Group of Eight meeting in France said they were “appalled” at the killing of peaceful protesters, demanding an immediate end to the use of force.
Damascus has ignored growing Western condemnation and sanctions and looks determined to crush the pro-democracy revolt by sending out security forces and tanks to subdue unrest it blames on armed groups backed by foreign powers.
State television said nine “martyrs”, including police and civilians, were killed by armed groups on Friday. Authorities say at least 120 soldiers and police have been killed since the protests erupted in March.
The biggest demonstrations typically occur on Fridays after Muslim prayers, and they have also generally been the deadliest. But the bloodshed this week appeared to be on a lesser scale than witnessed recently.
Human rights activists said protests flared in the eastern cities of Albu Kamal, where people burned pictures of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who this week threw his weight behind Assad.
They said tens of thousands of people marched in the city of Hama, site of an army assault to crush an armed Islamist uprising in 1982 during which up to 30 000 people were killed.
Demonstrations also broke out in Damascus districts of Barzeh, Rukn al-Din and Qaboun, several of the capital’s suburbs, in Latakia on the coast, Deraa in the south and in the Kurdish northeast. (Reuters)