11 dead in Friday Syria protests

Sept. 2, 2011 at 2:26 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Fighting in the streets and in front of hospitals left 11 people dead during Friday's protests in Syria, activists said.

Friday's demonstrations varied in size from a few hundred in some towns to thousands in others as demonstrations against the regime of Bashar Assad continued in what has become a Friday ritual, the Los Angeles Times reported.

A protester identified only as Wissam told the Times tanks surrounded a square in the Damascus suburb of Maaret Naaman where he and others were staging a rally.

"They were swarming all around us. Then the security forces started shooting ... straight at us," said Wissam, who asked that his last name not be used. He said the gunfire sent protesters scattering.

The Local Coordinating Committees said 11 people were killed, including two people in outlying districts and two in Homs. The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed in six months of protests against Assad.

The alliance said Syrian forces stormed two hospitals in Kafarbatna and Erbeen and attempted to take the bodies of those killed and wounded in the protests as families surrounded the facilities. Activists said withholding medical care has been a hallmark of the regime's crackdown.

Security forces also were reported storming mosques, which had heretofore been safe.

"Not even the mosques are off limits," said an activist in the suburb of Hajar al-Aswad identified only as Hani. "Nowhere is safe. There is no going back."

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the actions taken against protesters outrageous.

"President Assad's brutality against unarmed citizens has outraged the region, the world and, most importantly, the Syrian people themselves," Clinton said in Paris Tuesday during a meeting on providing aid to Libya. "The violence must stop and he needs to step aside. Syria must be allowed to move forward."

Clinton urged strong, new sanctions targeting Syria's energy sector to "deny the regime the revenues that fund its campaign of violence."

European Union ministers were to meet in Poland Friday to discuss another round of sanctions, including a possible embargo on oil imports, against the Assad government, the BBC said.

"There is a real prospect that we will agree on sanctions on the sale of Syrian oil into the European Union," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

In Syria, activists said they were preparing for another day of protests, using the rallying cry, "Death rather than humiliation."

Anti-government protesters said they expect the demonstrations to take place across Syria after Friday prayers, the BBC reported.

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