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Posts Tagged ‘Damascus’

Syrian forces fire on anti-Assad crowd in capital

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/chinese-envoy-meet-syrian-leader-u-n-condemnation-011432194.html;_ylt=Av1812XJ_k8gLm9NCAGS0SOs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNmbjVja3RuBG1pdAMEcGtnAzAxNDFhYzQwLTYyZGUtM2FhYi04YzdlLTQyNmJjMjE2NDZiMgRwb3MDMQRzZWMDbG5fUmV1dGVyc19nYWwEdmVyAzgzYmIyZmUwLTVhMjgtMTFlMS1iYTU1LTZjMWQxM2Q0ZTJmYQ–;_ylv=3

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis and Angus MacSwan | Reuters – 1 hr 19 mins ago

AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian security forces fired live ammunition to break up a protest against President Bashar al-Assadin Damascus on Saturday, killing at least one person, opposition activists said.

A Chinese envoy met the Syrian leader earlier in the day and urged all sides to end 11 months of bloodshed, while backing a government plan for elections.

The shooting broke out at the funerals of three youths killed on Friday in an anti-Assad protest that was one of the biggest in the capital since a nationwide uprising started.

“They started firing at the crowd right after the burial. People are running and trying to take cover in the alleyways,” said a witness, speaking to Reuters in Amman by telephone.

The opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said the gunfire near the cemetery had killed one mourner and wounded four, including a woman who was hit in the head.

Up to 30,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets in the Mezze district of Damascus, witnesses said.

Footage of the funeral broadcast live on the Internet showed women ululating to honor the victims. Mourners shouted: “We sacrifice our blood, our soul for you martyrs. One, one, one, the Syrian people are one”.

Assad described the turmoil racking Syria as a ploy to split the country.

“What Syria is facing is fundamentally an effort to divide it and affect its geopolitical place and historic role in the region,” he was quoted by Syrian state television as saying after meeting Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun.

CHINESE SUPPORT

Zhai, speaking hours before the shooting at the funerals, said Chinabacked Assad’s plan for a referendum on February 26 followed by multi-party elections to resolve the crisis. The opposition and the West have dismissed the plan as sham.

The Chinese envoy appealed for an end to violence from all sides, including the government and opposition forces. His comments nevertheless amounted to a show of support against world condemnation of Assad’s crackdown on the popular uprising.

China supports the path of reform taking place in Syria and the important steps that have been taken in this respect,” he said.

China’s state news agency Xinhua highlighted Zhai’s comments that China was “deeply concerned by the escalating crisis”. The Syrian TV report quoted him as saying: “The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability.”

Beijing and Moscow have been Assad’s most important international defenders during the crackdown which has killed several thousand people and divided world powers. The United Nations, the United States, Europe, Turkey and Arab powers want Assad to step down and have condemned the ferocious repression.

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution on February 4 calling on Assad to quit and also voted against a similar, non-binding General Assembly resolution on Thursday.

BOMBING THE OPPOSITION

Syrian government forces meanwhile renewed their bombardment of the opposition stronghold of Homs on Saturday.

A blanket of snow covered Homs, on the highway between Damascus and the commercial hub Aleppo, as Syrian troops pounded mainly Sunni Muslim rebel districts with rockets and artillery.

The troops were close to Baba Amro, a southern neighborhood that has been target of the heaviest barrages since the armored offensive began two weeks ago, activists said.

“Troops have closed in on Baba Amro and the bombardment is mad, but I don’t know if they are willing to storm the neighborhood while it is snowing,” activist Mohammad al-Homsi said from Homs.

“There is no electricity and communications between districts are cut, so we are unable to get a death toll… there is no fuel in most of the city.”

The military has also opened a new offensive in Hama, a city with a bloody history of resistance to Assad’s late father. The Assad clan are Alawites, an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam, in a majority Sunni country.

Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez when he died in 2000 after 30 years in power, says he is fighting foreign-backed terrorists.

The uprising began with civilian protests in March, but now includes a parallel armed struggle led by the loosely organized Free Syria Army, made up of army deserters and local insurgents.

Syria’s other significant ally is Iran, itself at odds with the West. An Iranian destroyer and a supply ship sailed through the Suez canal this week and are believed to be on their way to the Syrian coast, a source in the canal authority said.

The West is concerned that the conflict is sliding towards a civil war that could spread across the region’s patchwork of ethnic, religious and political rivalries.

But it has ruled out Libya-style military intervention, instead imposing sanctions and urging a fragmented opposition, which includes activists inside Syria, armed rebels and politicians in exile, to present a common front against Assad.

Tunisia, which is hosting a meeting on Syria next week, said on Friday Arab countries would encourage the opposition to unite before they would recognize them as a government-in-waiting.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Abbas in Beirut; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Syria forces ‘fire on Damascus funeral ‘

Posted by Admin on February 18, 2012

http://news.yahoo.com/syria-forces-fire-damascus-funeral-105633509.html;_ylt=Aqn.6D0Is3G.bA5xvKzaZSis0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTNiN2RiYTNqBG1pdAMEcGtnAzgwZTM4ODllLTA3MDAtMzVkOC1iMDNhLWM5YmQ4ZDBkNWZjYwRwb3MDMgRzZWMDbG5fQUZQX2dhbAR2ZXIDZGM0ZTNmMjMtNWEyOS0xMWUxLWFkZjctYzQ5NWJmN2E1ZTA3;_ylv=3

AFP – 13 hrs ago

Syrian security forces fired on a huge crowd gathered for the funerals Saturday of demonstrators killed in rare protests in the capital after a senior Chinese envoy issued a plea for the bloodshed to end.

Following Damascus talks with President Bashar al-Assad, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called on all sides in Syria to stop the violence and for planned elections, which have been denounced by the opposition, to go ahead peacefully, state media said.

The Damascus funerals were for four people, two of them teenagers, who were killed when security forces opened fire on demonstrators in the capital’s west central Mazzeh district, which houses many government offices and embassies, a human rights group and activists said.

“The forces of Assad are shooting on those taking part in the funerals and firing tear gas to disperse them,” Mohammad Chami, of the Local Coordination Committees which organise protests on the ground, said when contacted by AFP on Skype.

He said it was “sustained gunfire.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were casualties among the “thousands” attending the funerals without specifying their number or severity.

Activists described Friday’s demonstrations in Damascus as “unprecedented,” saying there were 49 in all, and called for a “day of defiance” in the capital on Sunday to galvanise support.

“It’s the first time that the protests have spread to well-to-do neighbourhoods,” said Moaz Shami of the LCC.

In a message to Damascus residents on their “Syrian Revolution 2011” Facebook page, activists said: “The blood of the martyrs exhorts you to disobedience.”

Security forces also kept up their pounding of the flashpoint central city of Homs as the Chinese envoy visited.

Rockets crashed into strongholds of resistance at the rate of four a minute on Friday, according to one activist, who warned that the city — Syria’s third largest — faces a humanitarian crisis.

Thirteen of the 30 people killed on Friday were in the Homs district of Baba Amr, the Syrian Observatory said.

After his talks with Assad, Zhai, whose government has twice joined Moscow in blocking UN Security Council condemnation of the Damascus regime’s deadly crackdown, said it was vital that “calm be restored as quickly as possibly,” state television reported.

“The position of China is to call on the government, the opposition and the rebels to halt acts of violence immediately,” the Chinese envoy said.

“We hope that the referendum on a new constitution as well as the forthcoming parliamentary elections pass off calmly,” he added.

“China supports the reforms under way in Syria and the significant measures taken by the country in this field.”

Assad for his part said the events in Syria were “aimed at dividing the country and delivering a blow to its geopolitical position and historical role in the region,” the official SANA news agency reported.

He said he was determined to “advance the political reform process according to a precise plan and timetable.”

On Thursday, Syrian opposition groups rejected a newly drafted constitution that could end nearly five decades of single-party rule, and urged voters to boycott a February 26 referendum on the charter.

One of them, the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, told AFP “it is impossible for us to take part in this referendum before a stop to the violence and killings” which rights groups say has killed more than 6,000 people since March last year.

Zhai’s meeting with Assad followed talks with his counterpart, Faisal Meqdad, late on Friday after which he said the international community must respect Syria’s sovereignty.

“The sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected by all sides and by the international community,” SANA quoted him as saying.

On Thursday, before heading to Damascus, Zhai said Beijing opposed armed intervention and forced “regime change” in Syria.

China and Russia have faced a barrage of criticism for blocking action by the UN Security Council, including from Arab nations with which Beijing normally has good ties.

“China condemns all acts of violence against innocent civilians” and “does not approve of armed intervention or forcing so-called ‘regime change,'” Zhai was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

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UN says at least 3,500 killed in Syria crackdown

Posted by Admin on November 9, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/un-says-least-3-500-killed-syria-crackdown-101719585.html

By JOHN HEILPRIN – Associated Press | AP – 21 hrs ago

GENEVA (AP) — Syria‘s nearly eight-month-old uprising has cost at least 3,500 civilian lives, the United Nations reported Tuesday, in a tally based on figures gathered outside the country.

That includes dozens killed since last week’s Arab League-brokered peace plan, and the passing of a major Muslim holiday on Sunday, according to the U.N. human rights office.

Ravina Shamdasani — a spokeswoman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights — said “more than 60 people are reported to have been killed by Syrian security forces since Syria signed the peace plan” sponsored by the league.

She told reporters in Geneva the tally includes 19 killed on Sunday during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, also known as the Feast of Sacrifice.

The U.N. figures are conservative and based on “credible sources on the ground,” though the agency itself has no one posted in the country, Shamdasani said.

The government has largely sealed off the country from foreign journalists and prevented independent reporting, but amateur videos posted online and details gathered by activist groups have been filtering out.

Damascus had agreed under the Arab League plan to pull tanks and armored vehicles out of cities, release political prisoners and allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

Despite the release of more than 500 detainees on the eve of Eid al-Adha, Shamdasani said “tens of thousands continue to remain in detention and dozens are reported to be arbitrarily arrested and detained.”

As a result, she said, the U.N. human rights office is “deeply concerned” that the violence continues unabated as the government continues to use tanks and armored vehicles to attack some areas.

Activists have reported that fresh attacks by Syrian troops on Tuesday morning killed two people in a rebellious neighborhood in the central Syrian city of Homs, as the military struggles to consolidate control over the district.

A key opposition group, the Syrian National Council, declared the city a “disaster area” on Monday and appealed for international intervention to protect civilians, as well as calling for Arab and international observers to oversee the situation on the ground. Homs has a population of some 800,000 and is some 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the capital, Damascus.

Despite increasing international pressure, President Bashar Assad still has a firm grip on power and has shown no signs of moving to stop the crackdown on the uprising against his regime since mid-March.

He blames the bloodshed on “armed gangs” and extremists acting out a foreign agenda to destabilize the regime, portraying himself as the lone force who can ward off the radicalism and sectarianism that have bedeviled neighbors in Iraq and Lebanon.

___

Zeina Karam and Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut and Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

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Syrian government: 12 killed in seaside city

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110327/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_syria

AP – Pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters, shouts pro-Assad slogans as they hold his posters, in Damascus
By ZEINA KARAM, Associated Press Zeina Karam, Associated Press 1 hr 1 min ago

DAMASCUS, Syria – The Syrian government says 12 people were killed in violence rocking a seaside Mediterranean city.

Syria’s state-run news agency said unknown armed elements on Saturday attacked neighborhoods in Latakia, shooting from rooftops and terrorizing people.

Ten people, including security forces, residents as well as two members of the shadowy “armed elements” died in the violence.

Some 200 others were wounded, most from the security forces, the report said Sunday.

Syrian army units deployed in Latakia Saturday night following a day of violence and chaos in which protesters and the government traded accusations of violence and incitement.

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