Syrian forces ‘kill five in demonstrations’

2011-07-30 10:30

Cairo/Damascus – Five Syrians were killed when security forces opened fire on overnight anti-government protests near Damascus, activists said today.

The deaths brought to 22 the number of people killed in pro-democracy demonstrations yesterday, the opposition group the Local Coordination Committees of Syria said.

Mass protests were held yesterday in several Syrian cities and towns in response to a call made by online activists to denounce what they described as Arab silence in the face of repression by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“All countries condemned attacks in Norway, which left 90 people dead. In Syria, some 2 000 have been killed, but the Arab rulers and the Arab League remain silent,” activists said in a Facebook message.

Meanwhile, a video clip posted on YouTube showed a group of Syrians who have allegedly defected from the army and set up what they called the Free Army of Syria.

The leader of the group, identifying himself as Colonel Riyad al-A’sad, said that his “army” would protect protesters. He called on “all honest officers and soldiers” in the Syrian army to defect and join his group.

“The security forces, who kill civilians and besiege towns, will become our legitimate targets across the Syrian lands,” he added in a video message.

Local human rights advocates say that more than 1 500 civilians have been killed since anti-government protests began in mid-March.

Over 350 security personnel have also been killed.

There is virtually no independent verification of such reports and figures, as the Syrian authorities have barred most foreign media and international human rights groups from the country.

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