News24

No water, power in Syrian protest town

2011-04-28 15:02

Nicosia - Water and power have been cut in Daraa, epicentre of pro-democracy protests, with at least 42 people killed since Syrian troops stormed in three days ago, a rights activist said on Thursday.

"The situation is worsening. We have neither doctors nor medical supplies, not even baby milk. The electricity is always cut and we haven't any more water," Abdallah Abazid said in Nicosia by telephone from Daraa, 100km south of Damascus.

The Syrian army, supported by tanks and armoured vehicles, stormed into Daraa to quell the unprecedented challenge that since March 15 has shaken the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

At least 42 "martyrs" have been killed since Monday, Abazid said. Their families, he added, had been unable to bury them because "security forces were firing on anybody visiting the cemetery", which is controlled by the army.

Sporadic gunfire had been heard in the town, while an aircraft flew overhead, Abazid said. "I think it was a surveillance plane," he added.

He also said there had been defections from the army. Some soldiers "of the 5th company joined the residents to defend against the security services", he said, although it was not possible to verify this information.

Friday of anger

A London-based spokesperson for Syrian opposition activists called on the army to protect citizens confronted with brutal repression and killings by security forces."

"We hope that Bashar al-Assad still has an ounce of humanity in him so he can stop this massacre, otherwise the response on Friday will be on the street, where hundreds of thousands will turn out to demonstrate against him and his regime, demanding his departure," Ausama Monajed said.

His group on Wednesday called upon the regime to implement real reform lest it is "overrun by a popular revolution".

The Youth of the Syrian Revolution also called on Facebook for a "Friday of anger" and for anti-regime demonstrations in solidarity with Daraa.

"To the youth of the revolution, tomorrow we will be in every town square, all the streets (...), we are committed to all besieged towns and cities, including our brothers in Daraa. We will be at the rendezvous," the activists wrote.

The Baath party has had a monopoly on power since 1963, but is now also confronted with collective resignations, with more than 230 party members leaving on Wednesday.

Since March 15, when protests began, at least 453 people have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights.