Syrian security forces clamp down on Damascus

Last Updated: Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 23:13

Damascus: Syrian security forces deployed
heavily on Sunday in a tense Damascus neighbourhood where a
mourner was shot dead in the largest anti-regime rally seen in
the capital, blunting calls for a "day of defiance."

With protesters becoming more and more emboldened in
Damascus following 11 months of revolt which has largely
escaped the capital, President Bashar al-Assad`s regime also
came under pressure Sunday from regional powers, with Egypt
joining other Arab League countries in recalling its
ambassador.

Although the security force deployment thwarted attempts
by activists to stage new protests in Mazzeh neighbourhood,
scene of a funeral yesterday that turned into a huge
anti-regime rally, business there came to a halt, activists
said.

Mohammed Shami, a spokesman for activists in Damascus
province, said most shops were shut in Mazzeh as well as in
the neighbourhoods of Barzeh, Qaboon, Kfar Sousa and Jubar.

Student demonstrations had been expected in Mazzeh but
security forces were deployed around schools, Shami said.
"Security forces are heavily deployed throughout Mazzeh,"
he added.

Another activist, Abu Huzaifa from the Mazzeh Committee,
said police forced the family of Samer al-Khatib, 34, who died
after being shot in neck during the mass funeral on Saturday,
to bury him in a small ceremony earlier than planned, in an
apparent move to head off demonstrations.

In central Damascus, shops were opened as normal,
witnesses said, while state television showed live footage
from Mazzeh interviewing people who claimed life was
proceeding normally.

Deeb al-Dimashqi, a member of the Syrian Revolution
Council based in the capital told AFP earlier that "huge
demonstrations" were expected, adding however that Syrian
forces had clamped tight security around the city.

"There is a large security presence," he said.
In a message to Damascus residents on their "Syrian
Revolution 2011" Facebook page, activists said: "The blood of
the martyrs exhorts you to disobedience," after more than
6,000 people were killed since protests against the regime of
erupted in March, according to activists.

Regime forces meanwhile pounded the flashpoint central
city of Homs for 15th straight day today, killing at least
four people, activists said, while official SANA news agency
reported the murder of a prosecutor and a judge in
northwestern Idlib province.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, February 19, 2012 - 22:59

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