Mon, May 02, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Syrian protesters plan rallies ‘to break the siege’

AFP, DAMASCUS

Anti-regime protesters in Syria yesterday planned the start of a “week of breaking the siege” a day after troops killed six civilians in the southern flashpoint city of Daraa.

The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving force behind the protests, vowed in a Facebook statement that “we will only kneel before God” and gave a schedule of protests in solidarity with Daraa and the Damascus suburb of Douma, both besieged since Monday last week.

Troops in tanks backed by other armored vehicles cruised Daraa streets yesterday, shooting to keep residents indoors and arresting men aged 15 and over, an activist from the town said by telephone.

“Since early morning, the army and security forces have been combing neighborhoods one by one and making sweeping arrests. Hundreds have been arrested since Friday,” Abdullah Abizad said.

Thousands of troops stormed into Daraa six days ago and imposed a draconian siege on the town, the epicenter of seven weeks of protests against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, 138 more members of Assad’s ruling Baath party resigned in protest at the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, according to collective resignation lists received on Saturday by reporters in Nicosia.

Activists said countrywide protests from yesterday would begin a “week of breaking the siege” — a reference to Daraa and Douma — with demonstrations planned for Daraa yesterday and around Damascus today.

Rallies are planned for tomorrow in the northern towns of Banias and Jableh, Wednesday in Homs, Talbisseh and in Tall Kalakh on the border with Lebanon, and nationwide night vigils on Thursday.

Water and power have been cut in Daraa as the situation worsened after 3,000 to 5,000 troops supported by tanks stormed the town nearly a week ago.

Abizad said living conditions were worsening.

“The humanitarian situation is very dire. There is no water, no food, no electricity. There are six bodies on the streets since Friday and we cannot get to them because of the snipers. There are also wounded we cannot reach,” Abizad said. “The snipers shoot at everything that moved. We had a dog in our neighborhood, a white dog, and they even shot him.”

On Saturday, six more civilians were killed when the army pounded Daraa, while snipers on rooftops fired at anyone venturing out, activists said. The military said one soldier was killed and seven others wounded in Daraa on Saturday.

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