Syrian forces kill 11 in 'vengeance' raid on dissent

DAMASCUS- Syrian forces pursued a deadly crackdown on anti-regime dissent Wednesday, killing 11 people in a "vengeance" raid near Damascus and arresting hundreds outside the capital, activists said.
The latest violence came as some 200 Syrian youth activists opened a four-day meeting in Istanbul, to discuss ways of improving coordination among groups seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian forces kill 11 in 'vengeance' raid on dissent
The dawn raid targeted Kanaker, a town of 250,000 people west of Damascus, Ammar Qorabi, head of the National Organisation for Human Rights, told AFP in Nicosia.
"The security forces entered homes at dawn on Wednesday and during the operation 11 people were shot dead and more than 250 arrested," said Qorabi, providing AFP with the names of the victims.
"A bulldozer and army tanks" backed the operations, while 11 vehicles were used to whisk away those arrested, namely people aged between 15 and 40, he said, adding that electricity, water and the Internet were cut.
Qorabi said the raid was an "act of vengeance" because Kanaker residents had provided supplies to the southern town of Daraa, epicentre of more than four months of anti-regime protests.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, in a statement emailed to AFP, said Daraa has been under curfew since Saturday and provided the names of eight people it said were killed in the crackdown in Kanaker.
It said troops and security forces stormed Kanaker at dawn under the cover of heavy gunfire. "Residents of Kanaker threw stones at the tanks", SET tyres ablaze to block their approach and chanted Allah-o-Akbar.
According to the Observatory 18 tanks positioned themselves at the entrances of Kanaker but four of them which had come from the east had to withdraw under a barrage of stones from angry residents.
The Observatory also reported that security forces also raided on Wednesday the Damascus neighbourhood of Barzeh, quoting witnesses at the scene.
"Around 14 green trucks crammed with armed men and cars carrying others holding machine guns were seen on the main street" of Barzeh, following a dawn raid, it added.
The head of another rights advocacy group, Abdel Karim Rihawi, reported that around 300 people were arrested Monday and Tuesday in Sayyeda Zeinab, a district just south of Damascus, home to a revered Shiite shrine.
The shrine, a favourite among Shiite Muslim pilgrims, is dedicated to Zeinab, the granddaughter of Prophet Mohammed and daughter of imam Ali, the most revered figure of Shiite Muslims.
Rihawi, who heads the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights, said "security forces continue (Wednesday) to conduct arrests in Barzeh and in Zabadani," just outside the capital.
The Observatory said "several military vehicles" headed to Zabadani, which has been rocked by anti-regime protests and arrests in the past two days.
Meanwhile, a rights activists reporting from Aleppo said "hundreds of lawyers" staged a sit-in in Syria's second city and economy hub on Wednesday chanting "freedom, freedom."
In Istanbul, Syrian youths from home and abroad got together to discuss strategy and how to bring about regime change.
"The objective is basically to get the activists together, put together a strategy for coordination," said Moaaz al-Sibaai, an organiser.
Anti-regime activists will learn how to use technology to communicate safely and, if necessary, anonymously, particularly with protesters living in Syria, Sibaai said, as most of those attending came from outside Syria.
Imaddin Rashid, a leader of the Syrian protest movement, urged the young activists "to build a civil society that transcends ideological, religious and ethnic divides."
At least 1,486 civilians have been killed in the crackdown on the uprising that started in mid-March while thousands have been arrested and thousands fled the country, human rights groups say.
Some rights groups say at least 12,000 people have been detained since the anti-regime protests erupted, but it is unclear how many are still being held and how many have been released.

Thursday, July 28th 2011

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