US voices alarm at Syrian crackdown on protests
Syria is the latest Arab country to be hit by a wave of popular protests.
Washington: The United States voiced alarm on Wednesday at the latest Syrian government crackdown against protesters, condemning its "use of violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrests”.
"The United States is alarmed by the violence overnight in Daraa by security forces against civilians," Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters following the violence in the southern city of Daraa.
"We are deeply concerned by the Syrian government`s use of violence, intimidation and arbitrary arrests to hinder the ability of its people to freely exercise their universal rights. We condemn these actions," he said.
He said the United States extends its sympathies to the families of those killed and injured.
"We call on the Syrian government to exercise restraint and to refrain from violence against" the protesters, Toner said.
Human rights activists and residents said security forces opened fire on protesters outside the Omari mosque early Wednesday, after hundreds of people had gathered overnight to prevent police from storming it.
One activist said at least thirteen people were killed in the overnight attack on the mosque," adding it was estimated that five or six people were shot dead during the subsequent funeral procession.
In the last few days, President Barack Obama`s administration has issued frequent condemnations against the Syrian government for its crackdown on days of protests in Daraa.
Robert Ford, the first US ambassador to Syria since 2005, arrived in Damascus in January on a mission to re-engage the two countries as part of Obama administration efforts to broker a broader Middle East peace.
The two countries, which have long been foes, disagree on a raft of issues.
Syria is the latest Arab country to be hit by a wave of popular protests, following the overthrow of authoritarian presidents in Tunisia in January and Egypt in February.
Other countries facing mass protests are Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iraq and Morocco. Anti-government erupted last month in Libya before Muammar Gaddafi’s security forces carried out a heavy crackdown and sparked an armed rebellion.