At Least 32 Dead as Hundreds of Thousands Flood Syria Streets

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

Syrian forces were accused of firing nail bombs Friday to disperse protesters as hundreds of thousands of people flooded streets across the country to make their voices heard to Arab monitors.

Protesters called for the ouster and prosecution of President Bashar al-Assad, whose autocratic regime has been blamed for the deaths of more than 5,000 people since pro-reform protests erupted in March.

Activists urged monitors, who started this week a mission to implement an Arab League peace plan, to protect civilians from the regime's wrath.

"We urge you to make a clear distinction between the assassin and the victim," activists of the Syrian Revolution 2011 said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

"Our revolution which was launched nine months ago is peaceful," they said.

The death toll rose again Friday, with at least 32 civilians killed by gunfire as Syrian forces dispersed crowds of protesters around the country, while four people died in an ambush by government troops, activists and a rights watchdog said.

The Local Coordination Committees, the main activist group spurring protests on the ground, said nine people were killed in the flashpoint central province of Homs, nine in the restive central province of Hama, two in the countryside around Damascus, six in the northwestern province of Idlib, and six in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the pro-democracy protests.

Huge demonstrations rocked northwestern Idlib province and Douma, a Damascus suburb where protesters clashed with security forces who fired "nail bombs" to disperse them, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 24 protesters were hurt when security forces fired "nail bombs to disperse tens of thousands of demonstrators in Douma," the watchdog said, adding that the protesters "hurled stones" in retaliation.

"An activist in the city told the Observatory that he was hurt by shrapnel from those bombs," the Britain-based group said in a statement received by Agence France Presse.

In Douma, security forces also fired "stun grenades and tear gas" at protesters as 60,000-70,000 demonstrators headed to city hall, where Arab League observers visited the previous day.

It was the "biggest ever demonstration" in the restive suburb since March, it added.

Further north in Idlib province, which borders Turkey, more than 250,000 protesters took the streets in various locations, the Observatory reported.

Meanwhile, Anwar Omran, member of the so-called Revolution Council of Hama, told Al-Jazeera television that “Hama witnessed today massive demonstrations, with protesters numbering around 300,000.”

In the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the pro-democracy protests, five civilians were shot dead when security forces opened fire on crowds of protesters, the Observatory said.

Several people were shot and wounded in the Daraa town of Inkhil where, bracing for protests, authorities deployed security forces and posted snipers on high grounds from early in the morning, it said.

Protests also took place in Homs, which activists have dubbed the "martyr" city as hundreds have died there in a government crackdown on dissent over the past few months.

In the Damascus neighborhood of al-Qadam, security forces fired live rounds of ammunition at worshippers who emerged from midday prayers apparently to prevent them from joining the protests, said the Observatory.

Protests in Aleppo, Syria's second city in the north and economic hub, were "brutally" crushed by regime loyalists, it added.

Two civilians and two mutinous soldiers were also killed Friday in the Homs province town of Tal Kalakh in an ambush by regular army troops, said the watchdog.

Internet activists had urged Syrians to "march to the squares of freedom, bare-chested" on Friday, saying they were ready to confront the regime's "artillery and machinegun fire."

The Observatory's Rami Abdul Rahman told AFP activists are determined to make their voices heard to the monitors despite the bloody crackdown which activists say has killed more than 100 people since monitors arrived Monday.

"The Arab League's initiative is the only ray of light that we now see," said Abdul Rahman.

The mission has been tainted by some controversy, with some opposition members unhappy with the head of the observers General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi -- a veteran Sudanese military intelligence officer.

Dabi this week ruffled feathers by saying Syrian authorities were so far cooperating with the mission and by describing his visit to Homs as "good."

For some, Dabi is a controversial figure because he served under Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed in Darfur region.

"The observers must remain in the cities they visit to protect civilians," said prominent human rights lawyer Haytham Maleh who is also a member of the main opposition Syrian National Council.

Speaking to Arab news channels, Maleh said the Arab League must increase the number of monitors to ensure they can verify Assad's regime is implementing all the terms of the plan to end the violence.

Around 66 monitors are currently in Syria but there are plans to deploy between 150 and 200 observers.

"The presence of the observers in Homs broke the barrier of fear," Abdul Rahman said in reference to some 70,000 demonstrators who flooded the streets of the central city Tuesday when the monitors kicked off their mission.

Western powers have urged Syrian to give them full access and Britain's minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt echoed those concern on Thursday.

Damascus must "meet fully its obligations to the Arab League," including withdrawing security forces from cities, he said.

But Syria's key ally Russia -- which has resisted Western efforts to push through the U.N. Security Council tough resolutions against Damascus -- said Friday it was happy with the mission so far.

Syria's state SANA news agency reported that massive crowds rallied on Friday in several cities, including Damascus, to support Assad and reject the foreign-orchestrated "plot" that is "targeting Syria's stability and security."

Comments 20
Thumb jabalamel 30 December 2011, 13:46

keep protesting just keep away from fighting. don't get into the fighting zone and than cry that army is killing people.

Thumb thepatriot 30 December 2011, 14:27

oh shut up now habal!

Default-user-icon Gudjarat (Guest) 30 December 2011, 14:34

Gabby, they are using nail bombs in Daraa! Call on the implementation of the no-fly zone ASAP. Things are getting out of hand, buddy. Or does this call for anti-tank missiles? You know best. But do something, ANYTHING, but do it fast.

Thumb jabalamel 30 December 2011, 14:47

the zionist information war department is out of lies, deceits and insults, so they resort to "shut up"

like that will work

Default-user-icon LebExile (Guest) 30 December 2011, 14:51

1 month to go!

Default-user-icon hanna (Guest) 30 December 2011, 15:35

Hara, i pitty your brain capacity ya amel....

Default-user-icon Patcho (Guest) 30 December 2011, 16:22

LebExile, Gabby's step-brother, is outdoing Gabby in predicting the time left for the "Assad" regime. What would Lebanon do without these two? alla yzidon (or perhaps He already did and we are still waiting for the final count).

Missing allouchi 30 December 2011, 17:17

To animal lovers, Assad will be gone soon, no specific date but the sooner the better for us all. The POINT is he'll be gone on the run or dead soon enough.

Default-user-icon oua nabka (Guest) 30 December 2011, 17:22

hope everycountry that contributed in a way or the other in the lebanese war be burned to the ground

Default-user-icon Gabby (Guest) 30 December 2011, 17:37

The filthy Ba'ath information war department is losing with every bullet fired.

Patcho is ashamed of his real name and keeps changing it from Ali to everything else. His masters in the Hezz are nervous and can't stand it that people speak. Keep sending your Hezz shabiha to Syria where more of them will be killed and sent home dead.

Thumb shab 30 December 2011, 21:08

Bomb Syria

Missing mansour 30 December 2011, 23:38

Glorious news more victims.Long live the civil war bring on 2012 and more mosery for Syrians.Thank you

Thumb jabalamel 31 December 2011, 00:13

the zionist information war department also tried to insult me but they talked about the thing the know nothing about: brain capacity.

also, they are still hoping for civil war in syria

Default-user-icon Guy (Guest) 31 December 2011, 00:51

Someone disagrees with me, therefore they are "the zionist information war department".

Default-user-icon ReaLeb (Guest) 31 December 2011, 01:12

I gotta admit. This Jabal or Habal or whatever his name is is kinda entertaining. I look forward to his posts. They are really funny. Sometimes even hilarious. Hey Habal, you're really all right with me even though no one else seems to like you.

Missing peace 31 December 2011, 01:21

tell us jabal what is good in bashars regime? do you have the brain capacity to tell us? hahaha!

Missing hdolce 31 December 2011, 02:00

jabal, so anyone who disagree with you is a zionist?? life is so simple in your head.

Default-user-icon jojo (Guest) 31 December 2011, 03:00

Hafez Asad said i will fight Israel until last Lebanese . Bashar asad i will fight Israel until last Syrian

Default-user-icon Gabby (Guest) 31 December 2011, 03:28

Nail bombs and snipers will not keep ASSad and his devils in power. The people will not stop. They have lost their fear. The problem for ASSad is that the old tactics are useless, and the people will not accept any conditions for him to stay after all the blood he has spilled. The only question now, is what direction change will process take now? The only way is to arm up, buckle up, and give him what he deserves.

The real news in the blogosphere is that a plan is drawn up and the details of implementation are being ironed out. Let the sweaty freaks keep up their rhetoric and laughing. It won't be much longer.

Missing marie 31 December 2011, 12:04

jabal ahbal, go back to iran please