Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad killed eight people across Syria overnight, activists said yesterday, in a sustained campaign to crush street protests against his rule buoyed by the demise of Muammar Qaddafi’s power in Libya.
Many of the deaths occurred as a result of attacks on street demonstrations demanding an end to 41 years of Assad family domination that have been breaking out daily after Ramadan prayers that follow the breaking of the fast, they said.
“Congratulations to the Libyan people,” read signs carried by protesters who marched at night demanding Assad’s removal in the town of Kisweh, where thousands of refugees from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights live, just south of Damascus.
“God is with us. The revolution is bringing together the free,” shouted demonstrators in the resort town of Zabadani, west of the capital and near the border with Lebanon.
The activists said yesterday seven of the protesters were killed in the city of Hama, which has been besieged by the military since the beginning of Ramadan on Aug. 1, in the countryside of Aleppo to the north, in the northwestern province of Idlib and in Homs, hometown of Assad’s wife, Asma.
“The best response to Assad is the peaceful street protests we are seeing as another Arab autocrat falls in Libya,” said dissident Adib Shishakli, grandson of one of Syria’s earliest presidents after independence from France in 1946.
The eighth civilian casualty was a Turkish truck driver killed by a pro-Assad militia on the main highway leading to Turkey in the town of Rastan just north of Damascus, which has been scene of daily assaults to end street protests, the activists said.
YouTube footage showed a body purportedly of the Turkish national at a local hospital and his passport.
Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists since the uprising erupted in March, making it difficult to verify events on the ground.
Prominent cartoonist and Assad critic Ali Ferzat was beaten up in Damascus by a group of armed men and then dumped in the street, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Observatory, headed by dissident Rami Abdelrahman, said Ferzat was taken to hospital with bruises to his face and a broken hand, in the latest assault on members of the intelligentsia critical of the repression.