Syria troops kill protesters in new blow to peace deal

Syrian authorities have used forced to crush almost daily anti-regime protests since mid-March.

Last Updated: Nov 05, 2011, 00:36 AM IST

Damascus: Syrian troops killed 17 people
on Friday as demonstrators, denouncing "despots and tyrants," took
to the streets to test the regime`s commitment to an Arab
peace deal calling for an end to violence.

Washington had already warned that the signs were not
encouraging after troops killed 20 civilians on Thursday --
the first day the hard-won agreement aimed at ending nearly
eight month of bloodshed came into effect.

France echoed the US concerns today, saying Syria was
breaking its commitments to the Arab deal by continuing a
deadly crackdown on protesters, and cast doubt on President
Bashar al-Assad`s dedication to the deal.

As more deaths were reported, the government offered an
amnesty to anyone who surrenders weapons by November 12,
linking the offer to the Eid al-Adha Muslim feast that begins
on Sunday.

Troops raked several residential neighbourhoods of Homs
-- a city of some one million people that has been one of the
hubs of the protests raging since mid-March -- which heavy
machineguns mounted on tanks, a watchdog said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 15 people
were killed across Syria, six of them in Homs.

Further north in Hama four civilians were shot, while
four people were killed in the town of Kanaker, outside the
capital, and a protester was shot dead by security forces in
Damascus.

Two more people were killed, one of them an army
deserter, when troops opened fire on a group of people trying
to slip across the border into Jordan, the Britain-based
Observatory said.

In the Mediterranean coastal city of Banias, security
forces laid siege to the Abu Bakr Siddiq mosque and beat up
worshippers as they attempted to demonstrate after weekly
prayers, it said.

The Arab League put Syria to task on Friday and said Arab
and international media should apply to Syrian authorities to
enter the country, since unfettered media access was part of
the deal approved by Syria.

Meanwhile, Syrian authorities announced an amnesty to
mark the end of the annual Muslim hajj, or pilgrimage, and the
start Sunday of Eid al-Adha feast.

"The interior ministry invites those who carry arms, who
sold them, distributed them, bought them or financed their
purchase and who have not committed any murder to turn
themselves in and surrender their weapons to the nearest
police station in their district ... from Saturday, November 5
to November 12," state television reported.

Those who heed the call "will walk free ... and receive
an amnesty," it said.

Syrian authorities have used forced to crush almost daily
anti-regime protests since mid-March, and more than 3,000
people have been killed according to UN estimates.
Pro-democracy protesters insist their campaign is
peaceful while the government says it has been battling "armed
terrorist groups".

PTI