Syria protesters call for permanent sit-ins

Last Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 00:57

Damascus: Anti-regime protesters called
for permanent sit-ins in towns and cities across Syria from
Tuesday as the authorities launched a wave of arrests in their
latest crackdown on demonstrations.

"We call on Syrians in all regions to gather from
Tuesday evening in all public places to organise sit-ins which
will continue day and night," said a Facebook post by the
opposition Syrian Revolution 2011 website.

The call came one day into a 15-day interior ministry
deadline for people who had committed "unlawful acts" to give
themselves up, and as security forces rounded up activists and
dissidents across the country.

It also urged Syrians to "supply information about
saboteurs, terrorists and arms caches," pledging "they will be
spared any subsequent legal consequences."

The ultimatum came as activists pledged fresh
anti-government protests following the weekend deaths of
dozens of people.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the London-based Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights said people were being arrested
all the time in a nationwide crackdown, and that regime agents
were armed with lists of people to be pulled in.

In the southern flashpoint town of Daraa -- hub of the
anti-regime protests that erupted in Syria on March 15 --
arrests were continuing.

"Important arrests in Daraa today and yesterday
according to lists: people aged between 18 and 40 interrogated
in a Daraa stadium, at least 1,000 detained," a human rights
activist in Damascus said.

Daraa was reported to have water and electricity again
today, except for the Al-Omari mosque area where there had
been clashes.

The official SANA news agency yesterday reported that
600 tonnes of flour had been delivered to Daraa, where
activists had reported major shortages of food, medicine and
baby milk.

A military spokesman yesterday announced the arrest of
499 people in Daraa, a week after thousands of troops backed
by tanks swooped on the town to crush protests.

The spokesman also announced the deaths of two members
of the security forces "as well as 10 terrorists." Eight
soldiers were wounded and five gunmen waiting in ambush were
arrested, the military added.

Security forces and the army continue to "pursue
terrorist groups and have arrested members of these groups who
committed crimes and acts of sabotage in the city" of Daraa,
SANA reported.

Quoting a military official, it said large quantities
of arms and ammunition were found hidden in Daraa.

The army said it had entered Daraa on April 25 at the
request of residents to rid them of "terrorist gangs"
responsible for a spate of "killings and vandalism."


First Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 - 00:57

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