See no evil, hear no evil –Assad
Photo: AFP

What riots? Syria in denial

Officials in Damascus resort to farcical denials, creative accounts after more than 30 people killed in Syria protests; eyewitnesses say security forces mow down stone throwers, fire at protestors after Assad photo ripped

As protests across Syria continue to grow, prompting increasingly violent clashes and a mounting death toll, local officials insist on dismissing the reports while providing their own creative accounts of the situation.


On Friday, violent clashes were reported in several Syrian cities, with more than 30 protestors shot to death by security forces in Deraa, Damascus, Latakia and Sanamein.


Despite the reports, Syrian officials continued to present their own questionable version for Friday's events.


The situation in the country is calm, al-Arabiya television quoted Syria's information minister as saying on Friday, as the protests spread.


"The situation is completely calm in all parts of the country," the television station quoted Information Minister Muhsin Bilal as saying.


It was not clear when he was speaking.


Meanwhile, an official source claimed that an "armed gang" attacked headquarters of the people's army in the town of Sanamein, south of the capital Damascus, in an attempt to storm it, Syrian news agency Sana reported.


"The headquarters' guards confronted the gang and the clash resulted in the deaths of several attackers, the source said," Sana reported. "He added that security forces will continue pursuing armed gangs that terrorize civilians and inhabitants and try to tamper with the security of the country and citizens."


Troops mow down stone throwers  

According to different eyewitness accounts at odds with official Syrian reports troops who opened fire at protestors over ripped photos of President Bashar Assad and the stoning of soldiers.
Assad poster ripped apart
A resident of Sanamein told al-Jazeera told that more the 20 people died in the southern city after troops opened fire indiscriminately. According to an eyewitness, the clash ensued after protestors approached a military base and stoned it, prompting Syrian forces to open fire at the demonstrators.


Various websites featured difficult images of the bodies of the dead alongside the bleeding wounded.


Several protestors were also killed in Deraa, where an eyewitness said that security forces opened fire in response to a demonstrator ripping Assad's photo and an attempt to break a statue of late President Hafez Assad.


Amnesty: At least 55 dead in week

In sharp contradiction to the official Syrian statements, human rights group Amnesty International said on Friday at least 55 people are believed to have been killed since protests erupted in and around the southern Syrian city of Deraa a week ago.


The figure may not include the most recent deaths in the country.


"Security forces again opened fire on protesters in Sanamein and carried out arrests in Damascus, according to reports on Friday, a day after the authorities pledged to investigate the violence," Amnesty said in a statement.


The United States also seemed to take Syrian denials with a grain of salt, calling on the Syrian government to stop violence against demonstrators and the arrests of human rights activists, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday.


"We strongly condemn the Syrian government's attempts to repress and intimidate demonstrators," he told reporters.


Reuters and AFP contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 03.25.11, 22:42
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