Middle East News
37 killed as anti-government Syrians demand no-fly zone
Oct 28, 2011, 16:44 GMT
Cairo - At least 37 people were killed on Friday as Syrian security forces cracked down on protesters calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone over the country to protect civilians, opposition activists said.
Twenty were killed in the central province of Homs, with two shot dead by snipers stationed in the city, Omar Idlibi, the spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees that groups anti-regime activists, told dpa.
'The two people who were killed by the sniper fire were a mother and her son,' Idlibi said. 'The woman saw her son getting killed. When she rushed to his rescue, she was hit by a bullet in the head,' he added.
In neighbouring Hama province, 17 protesters were killed as security forces shelled areas where demonstrations were being held, according to Idlibi.
Homs and Hama are focal points for the anti-government protests in Syria.
'The increased violence has prompted 50 Syrian soldiers and a general to defect in Homs,' Idlibi said.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces had encircled several mosques in the town of Kafr Nabl near the border with Turkey where mass demonstrations were held demanding the imposition of a no-fly zone.
Syrian activists based in Lebanon said the army was using warplanes to locate demonstrations and alert government troops.
The Friday protests were in response to a call from online activists for the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, similar to the one that helped the rebels in Libya to oust the regime of Moamer Gaddafi.
'We call on the international community to impose a no-fly zone so that the (dissident) Syrian Free Army can act with greater freedom,' the Syrian Revolution 2011, a network of opposition activists, said on its Facebook page.
The dissident army group claimed that its forces had been behind an attack in Homs that killed nine soldiers loyal to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad two days ago.
It was established in July by Major-General, Raid al-Assad who deserted from the army along with other officers and joined the ranks of the opposition.
Meanwhile, activists who fled Syria to Lebanon, voiced fears that some Lebanese parties were helping the regime of President Bashar al-Assad to track his opponents inside Lebanon.
Their fears mounted on Friday after two Syrian brothers and their friend were kidnapped in a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Beirut by unidentified gunmen, Lebanese media reported.
The broadcaster Voice of Lebanon said the three had been kidnapped in the area of Beir Hassan near Beirut airport by gunmen travelling in three black four-wheel drive cars and a van.
According to unconfirmed reports, the three are believed to be opponents of al-Assad's rule.
Syria, Lebanon's longtime power broker, has staunch supporters in the country, led by the Shiite movement Hezbollah.
More than 3,000 people, including at least 187 children, have been killed in the government crackdown since the protests began in mid-March, according to the United Nations.