Tag Archives: Syria

Syria in dawn crackdown ahead of protester funerals

Syria in dawn crackdown ahead of protester funerals

DAMASCUS – Syrian security forces made dawn arrests on Saturday as mourners prepared to bury the first of at least nine people killed in anti-government protests on the Muslim day of rest, rights activists said. The arrests came in the tribal region around the town of Daraa, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) south of the capital, which has been one of the main centres of more than two weeks of demonstrations. A 20-year-old who was killed by security forces during a protest in Sanamein,

Thousands defy Assad to protest in Syria

DAMASCUS – Thousands of Syrians emerged from prayers to protest in the country’s north and south on Friday, in the first rallies since President Bashar al-Assad dashed hopes for greater freedoms. Witnesses in Daraa, one of the main focal points of rising dissent, told AFP that thousands of faithful gathered outside the flashpoint southern town’s courthouse after leaving a mosque.
“Death rather than humiliation,” and “National Unity,” they shouted.Chants were also directed against

Turkey kills seven Kurd fighters crossing from Syria

ISTANBUL – Turkish security forces killed seven Kurdish militants early on Friday after a large group of PKK fighters crossed over the border from Syria, Turkish military officials said.
It was the largest number killed in a firefight with the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers Party, since last summer. The PKK called off a six-month long ceasefire in February raising fears that violence would pick up before a national election in Turkey on June 12. Military operations were continuing

Hundreds defy Assad to protest in Syria

DAMASCUS – Hundreds of Syrians emerged from prayers on Friday to protest, including in the flashpoint town of Daraa, in the first rallies since President Bashar al-Assad dashed hopes for greater freedoms.
Witnesses in Daraa, a southern town that has been one of the main focal points of rising dissent, said hundreds of faithful gathered after leaving a mosque.
“Death rather than humiliation,” and “National Unity,” they shouted.
Chants were also directed against Assad,

Syria says to probe deaths in protest cities

DAMASCUS – Syria is launching an immediate probe into the deaths of “civilians and troops” in Daraa and Latakia, two cities that have emerged as the focal points of protests, state media reported Thursday.
“Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has charged the head of the judges’ council with forming a committee to begin an investigation, effective immediately, into the deaths of civilians and troops in the governorates of Daraa and Latakia,” read a report on the state-run SANA news

Decision already made to lift emergency law in Syria

DAMASCUS/AMMAN – The decision to lift emergency rule in Syria, which has been in place since 1963, has “already been made”, a presidential adviser said Sunday. “The decision to lift the emergency law has already been made. But I do not know about the time frame,” Buthaina Shaaban told AFP in an interview at her office.
Syria’s emergency law, put in place when the ruling Baath party rose to power in March 1963, imposes restrictions on public gatherings and movement and authorises

Syria frees 260 detainees in overture to protesters

DAMASCUS – Syria freed 260 political detainees in the biggest overture yet to protesters demanding reform in the country, where President Bashar al-Assad is facing unprecedented domestic pressure. “Syrian authorities have freed 260 detainees from Saydnaya prison, mainly Islamists but also including 14 Kurds, in a move that comes as part of the promises authorities made recently to boost freedom in Syria,” Abdul Karim Rihawi, president of the Syrian League for the Defence of Human

UN rights chief warns Syria of ‘downward spiral’

GENEVA – UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Saturday warned Syria that a violent crackdown on reformist protests risked plunging the country into a downward spiral of violence. The High Commissioner for Human Rights urged Syria “to draw lessons from recent events across the Middle East and North Africa which clearly demonstrate that violent repression of peaceful protest not only does not resolve the grievances of people taking to the streets, it risks creating a downward spiral of

20,000 gather for burials in Syria protest city: activists

DAMASCUS – Some 20,000 people gathered in the Syrian city of Daraa on Thursday for the burial of victims killed by police gunfire the day before, chanting support for a rising anti-regime movement there, rights activists said.
One activist in Daraa, contacted by telephone, said the mourners made their way
from the Omari mosque, where protesters have been holed up for a week, to the burial grounds under pouring rain, chanting: “With our souls, with our blood, we are loyal to

Iran, Syria in focus at N-watchdog moot

VIENNA – Iran and Syria found themselves in the spotlight on Monday as the UN nuclear watchdog convened for its traditional week-long spring meeting. The International Atomic Energy Agengy’s 35-member board of governors was set to discuss two new reports showing little or no progress in the watchdog’s long-running investigations into Iran’s controversial atomic programme and allegations of illicit nuclear activity on the part of Syria.
In his opening address to the closed-door

Russia vows to sell missiles to Syria

MOSCOW – Russia announced on Saturday that it intended to fulfil its contract to supply Syria with cruise missiles despite the turmoil shaking the Arab world and Israel’s furious condemnation of the deal.
“The contract is in the implementation stage,” news agencies quoted Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov as saying. Russia initially agreed to send a large shipment of anti-ship Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria in 2007 under the terms of a controversial deal that was only

Syria still stonewalling UN nuclear probe

VIENNA – Syria has snubbed a request by UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano for prompt access to a suspect nuclear site and a number of other locations, diplomats said on Tuesday. After more than two years of deadlock on the issue, Syria could find itself under intensified scrutiny at a meeting of the 35-member board of governors of Viennna-based International Atomic Energy Agency next month.
A number of countries could start even pushing for a possible resolution against

Iraq PM says Iran, Syria armed fighters: document

BAGHDAD – Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told US diplomats in 2009 that neighbouring Iran and Syria were providing weapons to insurgent groups within Iraq, a leaked document showed on Thursday.
Maliki’s comments to then-US ambassador to Baghdad Christopher Hill came in the midst of a year-long diplomatic row with Damascus that prompted both Iraq and Syria to withdraw their respective ambassadors, while US officials have long alleged that Iran backs militia groups operating inside

Syria again holds the strings in Lebanon: analysts

BEIRUT – Lebanon’s former powerbroker Syria has edged its way back into the heart of local politics, analysts say, after the militant Hezbollah and its allies toppled the Western-backed government of Saad Hariri.
“Over the past six years, Syria has sought to regain its influence, step by step, until the time came when it could announce to the world that Lebanon was once again squarely in its hands,” said Marwan Rowayheb, political science professor at the Lebanese American

In Syria, the silence before the storm?

DAMASCUS – On the surface all is calm in Syria, tightly ruled by the same authoritarian party for half a century, despite the upheaval in several of its Arab neighbours. Below, ordinary Syrians are quietly captivated by the tumult.
The government has barely commented on the six days of unprecedented protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and its control over the media has stifled public reaction in a country struggling with similar poverty and unemployment.