Syria forces fire on Damascus crowd

2012-02-18 14:09

Beirut - Syrian security forces opened fire on Saturday on a huge crowd gathered for the funerals of demonstrators killed in rare protests in the capital, an activist spokesperson in Damascus province told AFP.

"The forces of [President Bashar] Assad are shooting on those taking part in the funerals and firing tear gas to disperse them," Mohammad Chami, of the Local Coordination Committees which organise protests on the ground, said when contacted by Skype.

He said it was "sustained gunfire".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were casualties among the "thousands" attending the funerals in the Mazzeh district in the west of the city without specifying their number or severity.

The Britain-based watchdog said four people, two of them teenagers, were killed when security forces opened fire on Friday's "unprecedented" demonstrations in Damascus.

"It's the first time that the protests have spread to well-to-do neighbourhoods," said Moaz Shami of the LCC, adding that a total of 49 were counted in the capital on Friday.

Mazzeh is a strategic area of the capital that houses many embassies, as well as government, security force and state newspaper offices.

Before Friday's demonstrations, Damascus had been relatively untouched by the massive protests sweeping some provincial cities and more used to loyalist demonstrations organised by the authorities.

  • Anthony - 2012-02-18 15:52

    When a government instructs its military to fire live bullets into a crowd during a funeral procession, their end is near!!!! It could be a year, six months, but its now very likely that this assad won't hold on much longer than one month. And very likely, it will be the Russians who will pull the plug. Their costs for keeping assad in power, will become too high!!!

  • Fred - 2012-02-18 18:29

    This has been going on for eleven months. To stand by and allow it to continue, as Russia and China want, is just wrong. It's irresponsible and inhuman. It goes against everything we as human beings are, at our core. Out of the 151 countries on Earth, represented in the UN, just 17 want to do nothing. 134 want to act by demanding that Assad step down and monitored elections take place within a specified time. Russia and China don't want this. Shockingly bad judgement.

      Michael - 2012-02-18 21:41

      You foaming at the mouth already Fred? Now its really childish that the west (and yourself) just simply cannot take it when somebody has a different opinion in the UN. Russia and China have the only solution that will lead to a minimization of the killing. The Russians have engaged in discussions at a high level, has either Billary or Hague been to Damascus? No, the egotistical twits leading the western nations will never permit a solution to come from that side. A number of opportunities to find a solution without all out war have already been passed up, one of which was the Arab Observer mission (which the west howled at when it did not give the required report). Now the Syrian opposition has already dismissed the referendum on a new constitution and continues to engage in armed acts against the government. They want all out war and will indeed get it. Then Navi can appear in front of the cameras wringing her hands and say its 100,000 now dead. Fred and Anthony, you are a pair of warmongers, thank goodness the views you express are irellevant.

      Anthony - 2012-02-18 22:02

      @Michael, For 41 years ( FOURTY ONE YEARS ) the opposition wanted to talk. The response from the assad family; They were beaten up, arrested, jailed , tortured and murdered. What assad, and you, don't understand; The time for talking is over!! The opposition , this time, has been pushed too far. Like in Egypt, and than in Libya, the demonstrations won't stop, till the dsay the assads are gone; Dead or Alive !!! THIS TIME, THE SYRIANS WANT THEIR COUNTRY BACK!!!! NOTHING MORE AND NOTHING LESS !! It is up to your heros, how many more lives will be lost !!!

      Fred - 2012-02-19 00:16

      "Continues to engage in armed acts against the government". Yeah right. What planet are you on? Slipping those dishonest words in like that don't make them true. Assad is going, and it won't be pretty, unfortunately, by his own repeated choices, again and again, of violence against peaceful, unarmed civilians demanding nothing more than the right to vote.

      Michael - 2012-02-19 10:09

      Dear anthony and fred, yes they will get their country back but regrettably so many will die and will not be around to enjoy it. Very sad and thanks to the belligerence of individuals such as you two fine examples.

      Anthony - 2012-02-19 10:21

      @Michael, To blame the deaths of so many Syrians, on the ones who criticize the Syrian regime, is pretty insane. It is the butcher who runs Syria, who started the killings, and only whose departure , is that which can stop this madness!!!

      Michael - 2012-02-19 14:15

      Thanks for the free diagnosis jabber. You should also open that eye and see what the west gets up to on many occasions, and not just blame Russia and China. Billions are also paid to the US arms industry by some other dubious and democratic friends of theirs (e.g saudi) but in your peculiar view of the world that must be fine! For me its not just about hatred for the west but hatred for the idiotic conduct of world affairs by certain leaders. You are also a tricky twister of words- what I said was that certain western leaders will never accept a solution if it comes from elsewhere as their egos will stand in the way. There is no doubt where I stand Garth, Syria needs reform, but the present path to reform will lead to a maximum amount of bloodshed. Opportunities have been lost to have a peaceful transition, having been scuppered by stupid and ineffectual actions in the UN and elsewhere Now, its not just about Assad either, its about a whole deeply entrenched system, as is now also slowly dawning on those other "revolutionaries" in Libya and in Egypt. Where is NATO to protect Libyans from armed gangs now wandering about the country? Still engaged in backslapping and congratulating each other on Gaddafi's death? Foolish freddie and his sidegun anthony just bay for throwing out Assad. This is not the strategy to follow for AM reasons. They have a naive and superficial take on this whole situation just as their heroes in the western governments have.

      Anthony - 2012-02-19 15:58

      @Michael There are times when one has to make decisive decissions. When a woman gets raped, one can only take the side of the victim. One can't say; "well maybe she asked for it" That would be insane !!!! ( So far, I am sure you agree with me ) But the same pricipal applies, when in a dictatorship, the government uses its police force and its army, to attack its opposition with live amunition !! In that case one HAS to take the side of the oppressed. No ifs or buts!!! That leadership has lost ALL ligitimacy to govern. It has even nothing to do with numbers, of what percentage of the population supports the government or the opposition. It is a total abuse of power !!! I have tried to undertstand you, and the ones who think like you. I really have. But I fail to do so. I take it you live in SA. We have many problems and challenges here, but let's be honest, we live in a pretty awesome country. We have peace here, we have the freedom to express ourselves without the fear of being beaten up, arrested, tortured or even killed. We have probably got the best constitution in the world, which protects all of us. WHAT is it, that you would deny the same to others ???????????? WHY , do you take the side of the oppressor ????????

      Fred - 2012-02-19 16:53

      Of course not thanks to Assad who's actually doing the killing, detaining and torturing. It's all the so-called West's fault, which is in fact not the West anymore, but 134 countries out of the 151 on Earth.

  • Michael - 2012-02-19 10:13

    And to fred, you know that "armed acts against the government" is a very true statement and not at all dishonest, what do you think the rebels/opposition are doing? Playing pat-a-cake when they engage the government troops? Open you second eye a little you might see better, or is it positioned too far down?

      Garth - 2012-02-19 10:43

      @michael - I am not too sure where you stand. Is it FOR the deaths of thousands of innocents at the hands of a despotic leader? Or AGAINST foreign intervention which would stop the slaughter of thousands of innocents at the hands of a despotic leader?

      Jaba - 2012-02-19 11:10

      Michael is neither nor Garth. His sociological disorder is rather sad. He hates the west more than the oppressive regimes of China, Russia, Iran or Syria. Iran is scared that if Syria goes they will be next. If Iran & Syria go both Russia & China will lose very close friends. Billions in Arms is bought from them while they get cheap oil from Iran – another Axis of evil with the same disregard to human life like the Nazis of the nineteen-forties. He wants the people to have their freedom but not if that will make the West look good in any way. The west looking good is just too much of a price to pay. A few thousand dead Syrian women & children is not a good enough reason. So what you say Michael, we wait for a million dead before you agree to through them a lifeline?

      Michael - 2012-02-19 14:29

      You see Garth its not so clever to turn it into some clever conundrum! That people will die is certain. All one can do is select a strategy that will reduce the risks for the majority. That strategy in the case of Syria and its particular complexities is definitely not invasion or an aerial bombardment as was the case in Libya. Where does that leave us? With the rebels, which will continue for another five years with a mounting toll, and when its over a destroyed country and society? Or take it in another direction which is what the Russians and Chinese are advocating. BOTH sides lay down their weapons, BOTH sides vote for a new constitution followed by supervised elections. But no, lets rather be preoccupied with silliness, Fridays of this or that, resolution after resolution of condemnation at the UN etc.

      Fred - 2012-02-19 17:01

      Everyone with a clear mind knows that it is only know, in the past month or two, that the Syrian demonstrators have taken up arms, after close on six thousand people have been killed, mostly by sniper-fire, and tens of thousands detained or tortures. In my view, they could have taken up arms a lot earlier. Assad showed his intent from the beginning: crush the peaceful, unarmed demonstrators. Your idea of a ceasefire is of course right. The problem is the person in charge of the country's military is not interested in doing that. That's the end of that, then. 134 countries out of 151 are demanding that Assad step down. Only 17 think he should remain in power. It's a sad, corrupt day when a leader who's killed six thousand mostly unarmed civilians, and detained and tortured thousands more, is allowed to stay in power. Thankfully the vast majority of humanity believes in a higher standard.

      nowicki1 - 2012-02-22 21:54

      Don't bother arguing with these people Michael.. Not worth your time, they will wake up when they want to.

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