Syria protesters call for permanent sit-ins
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Last Updated: Wednesday, May 04, 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 04, 2011, 00:57

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