Syria: Protests Leave Scores Dead
By Ria Novosti
Scores were killed in Sunday’s protests in Syria in what human rights activists describe as one of the bloodiest days since the uprising began, Al Jazeera said.
“It is one of the deadliest days [since the protests erupted]” said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“One hundred civilians were killed on Sunday in Hama by gunfire from security forces who accompanied the army as it stormed the city,” the agency quoted Abdel Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights, as saying.
Protests continue in the country since mid-March with calls for President Bashar Assad’s resignation and political reform. In a bid to ease tensions, the government has recently passed a law that allows the formation of political parties and effectively ends almost 50-year de-facto monopoly rule of the Baath party.
Hama became the flashpoint protest city on Friday when more than 500,000 people took to the streets after Muslim clergy told people after prayers that “the regime must go.” Human rights activists estimate the overall death toll of the protest weekend to be near 140.
Casualty reports also came from other cities, including Syria’s main gas- and oil-production hub Deir ez-Zor, where protestors were allegedly shot by snipers. Deaths were also reported in the southern city of Herak and Al-Bukamal in the east.
Syria’s official SANA news agency said two servicemen were killed in clashes with “armed groups,” who set fire to police stations, barricaded streets and set fire to tyres in Hama. A colonel and two soldiers were “martyred” in Deir ez-Zor, the state-run agency said.
The violence was condemned by the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey and The Netherlands. Early on Monday Italy demanded the United Nations Security Council to convene for an emergency session.
More than 1,400 civilians have been killed since the start of the protests on March 15, Syrian human rights groups say. The government says 350 members of the security forces were killed in violence which they blame on “armed terrorist groups.”