News / Middle East

Syrian President Fires Hama Governor

An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube shows hundreds of thousands of Syrian anti-government protesters flooding the streets of the central city of Hama on July 1, 2011
An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube shows hundreds of thousands of Syrian anti-government protesters flooding the streets of the central city of Hama on July 1, 2011

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has fired the governor of Hama province, where tens of thousands took to the streets the day before to call for the president's ouster.

State-run SANA news agency announced the dismissal Saturday, but gave no reason for the political move.

On Friday, activists said Syrian forces killed at least 14 people in nationwide clashes with protesters.  They say Friday's protests were some of the biggest since demonstrations against Assad's government broke out in March.

Protesters gathered Friday near the Turkish border, as well as in central Syria and areas of the capital, Damascus.  

Rights groups say more than 1,400 people have been killed by security forces since mid-March, most of them unarmed protesters.

Details of events in Syria are difficult to independently confirm because the government allows very few foreign news reporters into the country and restricts their movements.

The latest violence comes as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said time is running out for the Syrian government.

Clinton made the comments Friday at the "Community of Democracies'' gathering in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius.  She said the Syrian government must make genuine reforms or face increased resistance.

Clinton also said Assad's efforts to reach out to the opposition during one meeting earlier this week was not sufficient.  She added that allowing an opposition meeting in Damascus, while deploying tanks in the north sends a mixed message.


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