News / Middle East

Syria Continues Crackdown Against Protesters

Syria Continues Crackdown Against Protesters
Syria Continues Crackdown Against Protesters
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Syrian security forces continued a crackdown across the country, amid reports that at least three people were killed in violence Saturday. Opposition sources say that scores of people were arrested in security operations in many towns and cities.

In the Damascus suburb of Douma, mourners chanted slogans against the regime Saturday to condemn the killing of a young protester Friday. Opposition websites showed hundreds of mourners in at least four cities who turned out to protest the killings of nearly a dozen demonstrators Friday.

Al-Arabiya TV showed Syrian warplanes, saying they broke the sound barrier over the city of Homs to frighten demonstrators. Videos also showed security forces conducting searches and making arrests in the Homs suburb of Deir Balbah.

An opposition video on Facebook showed scores of mostly young demonstrators in the Diraa suburb of Soura Saturday, protesting the arrests of 40 people by security forces Friday. It is impossible to confirm the event, since Syria is not allowing most foreign journalists into the country.

Several people were killed in violence across Syria Saturday and witnesses say government tanks invaded the town of Telkalakh, near the Lebanese border. Security forces stormed the village in June, forcing scores of residents to flee to Lebanon.

Syrian government TV claimed that what it called “biased” foreign TV networks"  were “inventing videos of demonstrations,” to “destabilize Syria.” Government TV interviewed two people who claimed that the networks were bringing people in from outside their neighborhood to film them protesting.

Several opposition videos, however, showed Syrian government cameramen filming protests in different locations, standing behind security forces. Opposition sources claim they were recording demonstrators in order to identify and arrest protesters.

Another opposition video showed Syrian Army tanks rolling over a row of parked cars in a suburb of Idlib to retaliate against the town's residents. A soldier could also be heard encouraging the tank driver to continue the destruction.

Meanwhile, in Tajikistan's capital of Dushanbe, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned a European Union decision Friday to stop purchasing crude oil from Syria. Damascus produces up to 350,000 barrels of crude oil per day, most of which are sold to Italy, France and Germany.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, insists that unilateral sanctions like the EU move to stop buying Syrian crude, are the only means of helping the Syrian people in the face of Russian and Chinese objection to a more serious U.N. Security Council Resolution.

He says that due to Russian and Chinese obstinance over adopting a Security Council resolution, only unilateral economic sanctions like those adopted by the EU Friday can pressure the regime, since the move deprives it of hard currency. He adds that the move is a step forward, but is still not enough to help the Syrian people and he warns that the struggle could turn into an armed conflict as it becomes more protracted.

The head of the International Red Cross is due to meet with President Bashar al-Assad late Saturday to discuss the bloody government crackdown.

Al-Jazeera television reported that Syria has yet to respond to last week's Arab League decision to send its secretary general to Damascus to evaluate the situation.

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