Aleppo protesters demand death for Assad
ALEPPO, Syria - Agence France-Presse
REUTERS file photo.Protesters in Aleppo took to the streets today to demand death for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad even as violence raged between regime forces and rebels, an AFP journalist and rights watchdog said.
Hundreds of protesters gathered in the al-Shaar neighbourhood of the country's economic capital, chanting: "The people want the execution of Bashar!" and "The people want freedom and peace," an AFP reporter saw.
"We go down the street with a single objective: the liberation of the country," said 20-year-old protester Abu Ahmed.
"Today you can take to the streets. Before there were shabiha" pro-regime militiamen, he said, adding:
"For 20 years we supported the military, but in fact this army is against us." The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported demonstrations in the Saif al-Dawla, Furqan and New Aleppo neighbourhoods in west Aleppo, as well as in Sukari, Bustan al-Qasr and Fardoss in the south.
It also reported protests in the Kurdish Hasakeh region, southern Daraa province and northwest Idlib province, where one demonstrator was shot dead by regime forces.
Shells rained down on rebel positions in Aleppo ahead of a UN vote on Friday to deplore both the regime's use of heavy weaponry and world powers for failing to agree on steps to end the conflict.
The official SANA news agency said the army and police killed 17 "terrorists" in the city, where the regime and rebels have been battling for control since July 20.
Security forces suppressed protests in the coastal city of Tartus and in the central city of Hama, with security forces and pro-regime gunmen blocking off a number of mosques in an effort to prevent protests, the Observatory said.
Elsewhere in central Syria, three people were killed in heavy shelling overnight near Houla, a town in Homs province where at least 108 people were reported to have been massacred at the end of May.
In the capital Damascus, six people were killed in the Tadamun district in fierce clashes between rebels and the army, which shelled the area, the Observatory said.
It also reported shelling the Jdaidet Artuz district southwest of the city where fighting erupted around the Marj al-Sultan military airport.
The Observatory said Jdaidet Artuz was the scene of a deadly raid on Wednesday by security forces which left 43 people dead, some of whom summarily executed.