Syrian activists call general strike in new tactic

The govt crackdown in Syria is turning to be more brutal and bloody.

Updated: May 18, 2011, 15:20 PM IST

Beirut: Syrian protesters have called for
a one-day nationwide general strike, urging students to skip school and workers to bring commerce to a halt in a new
strategy of defiance against government crackdowns that appear
to be turning more brutal and bloody.

The strike, planned for Wednesday, marks a shift by
opposition forces to strike at President Bashar Assad`s regime
from new angles: its economic underpinnings and ability to
keep the country running during two months of widening
battles.

A sweeping popular acceptance of the strike call would
be an embarrassing blow to Assad and show support for the
uprising in places, such as central Damascus, where
significant protests have yet to take hold and security forces
have choked off the few that have taken place.

"It will be a day of punishment for the regime from
the free revolutionaries ... Massive protests, no schools, no
universities, no stores or restaurants and even no taxis.

Nothing," said a statement posted on the main Facebook page of
the Syrian Revolution 2011.

The strike call came as the United States and European
Union planned new sanctions against the Syrian leadership. In
Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters that
the tighter measures could be imposed in the coming days.

Meanwhile, watchdog groups and Syrians fleeing into
neighbouring Lebanon added to the accounts of violence.

A Syrian rights activist, Mustafa Osso, said
government agents chased and beat students taking part in a
protest against Assad`s regime at a university in Aleppo,
Syria`s second-largest largest city. Security officials in
Lebanon said at least 170 people entered the country
yesterday, including a 2-year-old girl with a shrapnel wound
in her chest.

Syrians pouring over the Lebanon border in recent days
have described horrific scenes of execution-style slayings and
bodies in the streets in the western town of Talkalakh, which
has been reportedly encircled by security forces.

Osso, head of the Kurdish Organization for the Defense
of Human Rights and Public Freedoms in Syria, said there were
reports of gunfire in Talkalakh yesterday, but it was not
clear whether there were injuries.

At least 16 people, eight of them members of the same
family, have been killed in recent days in Talkalakh, a town
of about 70,000 residents, witnesses and activists said.

Syria`s official news agency said eight soldiers and
policemen were killed yesterday and five others were wounded
while pursuing fugitives in Talkalakh and nearby areas. The
report said security forces arrested several fugitives and
confiscated a large amount of weapons.

PTI