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Sunday, 12 June 2011

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US condemns ‘brutality and violence’

The US has strongly condemned Syria’s “outrageous use of violence” against anti-government protesters. The White House said the government was leading Syria down a “dangerous path” and called for “an immediate end to the brutality and violence”. At least 28 people were killed in fresh clashes in Idlib province on Friday.

The violence came as government forces moved on the town of Jisr al-Shughour where the government said 120 security personnel had been killed. Hundreds of civilians have fled north into Turkey to escape the assault.

In a statement, White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated calls for the Syrian security forces to exercise restraint, and said the US stood by those Syrians who were “demanding dignity and the transition to democracy that they deserve”. “The Syrian government is leading Syria on a dangerous path,” he said.

‘’The people have no weapons, they can’t defend themselves’’. “For that reason, it is critical that all Syrians remain united, work to prevent sectarian conflict, and pursue their aspirations peacefully.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also expressed concern over the high civilian toll, describing the use of military force as “unacceptable”. A spokesman for ‘Ban said he was “keen to speak to” Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but that the President has repeatedly been “unavailable” in recent days.

Syria has prevented foreign journalists, including those from the BBC, from entering the country, making it difficult to independently verify reports from there.

But anti-government activists said about 15 people died in the northern province of Idlib on Friday, most of them in Maarat al-Numan where tanks and helicopters fired on protesters who had taken to the streets after prayers.

Correspondents say it is the first reported use of air power to quell protests in Syria’s three-month uprising.

A Syrian Opposition figure had told the Associated Press news agency by telephone that thousands of protesters had overwhelmed security officers and set light to a courthouse and a police station in the town.

Turkey - which shares a long border with northern Syria - says more than 2,000 Syrians have crossed over, seeking refuge from the expected retaliation on Jisr al-Shughour. The city has a population of about 50,000. It is not clear how many residents have fled to other locations within Syria.

Three months in and the uprising in Syria is growing ever bloodier. Between Friday and Sunday over 150 people were killed in the biggest protests the country has seen yet. Most of Friday’s dead were shot in the central city of Hama after thousands took to the streets for the second Friday in a row.

Security forces shot dozens of unarmed protesters. On Friday the internet was cut across most of the country, making it difficult to get information out. The city has seen this kind of violence, and worse, before. In 1982 the then President Hafez Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood there, killing more than 10,000, and perhaps twice that.

 

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