Thousands rally in Syria as crackdown continues
Demonstrators protest against Syria’s al-Assad in Amude on Dec 27. Killings continue despite visit by monitors. REUTERS photoMore than 250,000 anti-regime protesters took to the streets of Syria’s flashpoint northwestern province of Idlib after the main weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, a rights watchdog said.
Some 250,000 gathered after Friday’s Muslim prayer at Idlib’s 74 different locations, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, an opposition network relaying activist reports. Syrian forces were accused of firing nail bombs to disperse protesters and activists said at least 10 people were shot dead. Demonstrators determined to show the strength of their movement to Arab League monitors deployed in hotspots across the country threw rocks at security forces in the Damascus suburb of Douma where troops tear-gassed the crowds.
“Five were martyred today and at least 20 wounded when the Syrian forces opened fire,” activists reported, referring to Hama. It said security forces fired at tens of thousands of protesters in the northern province of Idlib, wounding 25. The rebel Free Syrian Army said Dec. 30 it has stopped its offensive against government targets during a month-long mission by Arab League monitors, saying it wants to expose how the regime is killing peaceful protesters. The leader of the FSA, former air force Col. Riad al-Asaad, said his troops have halted the attacks since the observers arrived. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said an initial assessment by Arab League observers in Syria was “reassuring.” “Moscow appraises with satisfaction the real beginning of the Arab League activities in Syria,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The situation [in Homs] is reassuring, clashes have not been recorded,” it said.
Compiled From AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.