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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs