Moral Low Ground


Syrian Slaughter: Security Forces Kill At Least 12 Mourners

April 23, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Middle East with 0 Comments

Syrian security officers opened fire on mourners gathering to attend funerals for the scores of peaceful protesters gunned down by government forces yesterday, the BBC reports. At least 12 people were killed today, in addition to at least 82 slaughtered yesterday. All told, some 300 people have been killed by forces loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad since Syrians began rising up and demanding more freedom last month.

Today’s killings occurred in different parts of the capital, Damascus, and near the southern town of Daraa, which has seen some of the most intense protests against the Assad regime. Since international journalists have been barred from entering Syria, an exact casualty count is hard to come by. But at least five people were reportedly killed in the village of Ezra, in Daraa province, and another seven were said to have been shot dead in the Douma and Barzeh districts of Damascus. The victims were among tens of thousands who were gathering for funerals of those killed in yesterday’s brutal government crackdown.

One Damascus resident told the BBC that she was “very close” when the shooting started. “I saw more than six people falling to the ground. Anyone close to them who attempted to help was shot at too,” she said. “One of the fallen people wasn’t dead, he was injured and when someone tried to help, one security guard shot the injured person twice, to make sure he’s dead. We all started running. Two people running next to me were gunned down.”

The woman stressed that the protesters were peaceful. “They were carrying olive branches and [asking] for freedom and democracy,” she told the BBC.

Friday’s crackdown, which came a day after President Assad ended 48 years of emergency rule in Syria, was the deadliest since the uprising began. Among the scores of dead were a 70-year-old man and two young boys. According to the Associated Press, 19 people were killed in the central city of Homs; another 18 were shot dead in Izraa.

Homs, population 700,000, was eerily quiet today. “Today Homs is empty, there [is] nobody outside,” one resident told the BBC. “They arrest anybody they find outside and they are now once again starting to shoot and kill anyone who goes outside. Homs is a ghost city.”

All the killing doesn’t seem to be intimidating protesters or quashing the rebellion. Mourners in Barzeh chanted “Where are you Assad? We’re after your head!” No longer will Syrians be content with long overdue reforms. They want Assad, whose family has ruled the country for 40 years, to step down. The regime, sensing the existential threat, has responded with brutal, deadly force.

Speaking of stepping down, two members of the Syrian parliament from Daraa province resigned over the government’s brutal crackdown. Naser al-Hariri and Khalil al-Rifaei both said they were¬† resigning because they had failed to protect their constituents. Rezq Abdulrahman Abazeid, the state-appointed mufti (Muslim preacher) for Daraa province, also resigned over the killings. “When they announce at high levels that [protesters] will not be shot at, we see that the truth on the ground is not like that,” he told al-Jazeera.

US President Barack Obama joined many world leaders in condemning the deadly Syrian crackdown, demanding an end to the “outrageous use of violence to quell protests.”

Syrian state television claimed state security forces only used tear gas and water cannon against protesters, who they often refer to as “criminals.”



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