Protesters in Deir ez Zor
Photo: EPA

Syria: Troops kill 3; rebels form militia

Human rights groups in Syria report Damascus forces storm Deir ez Zor, kill three. Locals form 'free Syria army,' threaten retaliation

Syrian troops stormed parts of the eastern city of Deir ez Zor Saturday and barraged neighborhoods with heavy machine gun fire, activists said.


The attack is part of an intensifying government crackdown on protesters before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.



Activists expect anti-government demonstrations to escalate during Ramadan, which begins early in the week ahead. The raids by security forces appear to be an attempt by Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime to prevent wide-scale demonstrations when Muslims being the month of fasting from dawn to dusk.


Rami Abdul-Rahman, the director of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said troops shot dead three people in the nearby village of Tibni when they tried to stop advancing troops by throwing stones, adding reinforcements consisting of about 60 vehicles reached Deir ez Zor after noon.


The government has sought to discredit those behind the protests by saying they are terrorists and foreign extremists, rather than true reform-seekers.


"Intense shooting could be heard in the western parts of the city," the activist told AP. "Residents have placed barriers in the streets in order to obstruct advancing troops."


Deir ez Zor, the capital of a province that carries the same name, is oil-rich but is also one of the country's poorest areas. The tribal region, which borders Iraq, has been witnessing intense protests calling for the downfall of Assad's regime.


Several report among Syrian groups said that dozens of soldiers and officers have defected from the military and formed a rebel militia – the "free Syria army."


Riad al-Asad, a top defector whose rank parallels that of a colonel, reportedly warned Damascus that further action in Deir ez Zor would result in a confrontation.





פרסום ראשון: 07.30.11, 19:17
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