Middle East News
Seven killed as Syrian forces fire on Ramadan protesters
Aug 30, 2011, 14:57 GMT
Cairo/Damascus - At least seven civilians were killed Tuesday in Syria when security forces fired on pro-democracy protesters after the Eid al-Fitr prayers that mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, activists said.
The deaths occurred in the two cities of Daraa in southern Syria and Homs in the centre, which have been major centres of revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Syrians leaving mosques after the Eid prayers held anti-government protests in several parts of Syria, activists said.
Footage posted on the internet showed demonstrators in the port city of Latakia, the central city of Hama and Deir al-Zour in north-eastern Syria chanting: 'Freedom.'
'The people of my city insist on continuing demonstrations despite the indiscriminate shooting from the security forces and mass arrests,' a witness from Deir al-Zour, identifying himself as Abu Bakr, told broadcaster Al-Arabiya.
Embattled President al-Assad, meanwhile, offered the Eid prayers in a mosque in the capital Damascus named after his father as helicopters hovered in the sky, reported Al-Arabiya
Around 46 anti-government protests were held Tuesday across Syria, according to the Federation of Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution, a group of grassroots activists.
The group said that security forces, supported by al-Shabeeha, a pro-government militia, used force and mass arrests in dispersing the protesters.
Clashes also erupted Tuesday between protesters and security forces in the neighbourhood of al-Meedan in Damascus, the same group added. It reported no casualties.
A mass demonstration was also staged in Damascus' Kafr Soussa where security forces assaulted a mosque on Friday, activists said.
Meanwhile, a man wearing the uniform of the Syrian navy appeared in footage, broadcast on Al-Arabiya, saying he has defected to the self-styled Free Officers Movement.
The man, who said he was a colonel in the navy, attributed his alleged defection to shelling by gunboats of Latakia's southern district of al-Ramleha earlier in August.
At least 17 civilians, including a child, were killed Monday in a government crackdown in several areas of Syria, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
An estimated 2,200 people have been killed since protests started in Syria in mid-March, according to the United Nations.