News / Middle East

Syrian Security Forces Fire on Funeral Processions Causing More Bloodshed

A still image taken from an amateur video purportedly taken on April 22, 2011 shows a protester being carried by a group of other protesters during a demonstration in the city of Homs, Syria
A still image taken from an amateur video purportedly taken on April 22, 2011 shows a protester being carried by a group of other protesters during a demonstration in the city of Homs, Syria

Casualties, including at least 12  people dead, are being reported in at several Syrian cities Saturday as witnesses say government security forces opened fire on thousands of funeral goers. The bloodshed comes as U.S. President Barack Obama condemns the use of force against peaceful protesters and accuses Iran of helping in the repression.  

Funeral goers in the Damascus suburb of Barzeh carry victims of Friday’s violent clashes between security forces and protesters on their shoulders, as the crowd chants slogans against the regime. Videos on Facebook show hundreds of mourners in a tumultuous procession.

Al Jazeera TV showed videos of mourners in Barzeh fleeing as shots were fired near them.   It also reported that security forces fired indiscriminately on mourners near Izraa, outside the southern city of Diraa, as their procession crossed a highway overpass.

Syrian state media, meanwhile, is claiming that "Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are lying about events in the country."  The Syrian news agency SANA  insists that "outside forces" are waging a "misleading media campaign" and exaggerating about the size of protests. Opposition protesters, for their part, carried banners calling the government press "liars."

Some mourners on Saturday chanted anti-government slogans and repeated their calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign immediately.

Syrian state TV is reporting that "armed men" fired on the army and security forces in Diraa and elsewhere. It showed funerals of policemen and soldiers it claimed were killed by protesters. The Syrian-government reports accused outside agents of carrying petrol bombs and bottles of blood to "create fictitious stories of violence."  According to the reports, the agents also set fire to buses and attacked fire engines.

Two members of parliament from Diraa resigned to protest the government violence. The mufti of Diraa told al Jazeera TV that the shootings were "unacceptable" and announced he was resigning his post, as well.

Fahd al Masri, a Syria expert based in Paris, says that security forces fired on protesters both on Friday and on Saturday.

He said people were killed Saturday in the cities of Diraa, Homs and a Damascus suburb.  He adds that many people were killed and injured and thousands were arrested by state security forces on Friday.  He notes that the government’s announcement it was lifting martial law appears to have changed nothing and that security forces continue to fire on people.

Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution in the U.S. western state of California and Director of Middle East Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington. He told VOA that he thinks it was inevitable that the wave of Arab revolutions finally hit Syria.

"This revolution was bound to come to Syria. It was just that it would come to Syria. It was proper to come to Syria. Syria could not be spared. The revolution was bound to come to Syria, because it was in Syria where the terrorist state, the way we know it in the Arab world,  basically took shape in the '70s. So, everything about this revolution perfectly fits Syria," he said.

Ajami points out that unlike Egypt and Tunisia, or even Libya, the presence of many different religious factions in Syria is raising the specter of sectarian violence:

"Once (the revolution) came to Syria, it had to be Syrian. It can't be Egyptian or Tunisian and thus it has to be violent and thus the hidden menace of sectarianism that could devour this revolution. That, at the very end when it's all fought,  it would become what it always was destined to become: a war where (the regime) would rally the Alawis and their allies among the Christians and the Druze and the Ismailis etc. against the vast Sunni middle class," he said.

Ajami also notes the secret police that supports the regime makes the equation in Syria even more volatile than in Libya. Opposition reports say that members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have been seen attacking protesters alongside Syria’s secret police. The reports have not been independently confirmed.

U.S. President Barack Obama condemned Syria Friday for using "outrageous force" against anti-government protesters, and said it "must come to an end, now." He also criticized President Assad for "seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens."

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid