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Syrian forces open fire on funeral march turned into a mass protest close to Assad’s palace in Damascus (Videos)


February 18, 2012 - Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching Saturday in a funeral procession that turned into a protest in Damascus, activists said. It was one of the largest demonstrations in the capital since the 11-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad began. At least one person was killed, activists said, and several others were reported wounded. CNN reported that the protest — which activists estimated involved 15,000 to 30,000 people —took place just over a mile from Assad’s palace...


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Syrian forces open fire on funeral march turned into a mass protest close to Assad’s palace in Damascus (Videos)

MSNBC News + Videos

18damascus-funeral2.jpg

Syrian forces fire on mourners near Assad’s palace

February 18, 2012

(02-18-12) Mezzah | Damascus | Tens of Thousands Take to the Streets for Funeral Procession of Martyrs









Syria - Damascus - mezze - Assad gangs shoot at mourners - 2-18-12









Syria - 20120218 - Al Mazzeh, Damascus - Shooting on huge funeral kills, wounds attendees



Damascus Massacre 18-2-2012



Mezze Funeral Mourner Beaten by Assad Security Forces 2-18-12 Damascus






Thousands protest at funeral of three young people killed by government loyalist troops

Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching Saturday in a funeral procession that turned into a protest in Damascus, activists said.

It was one of the largest demonstrations in the capital since the 11-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad began.

At least one person was killed, activists said, and several others were reported wounded.

CNN reported that the protest — which activists estimated involved 15,000 to 30,000 people —took place just over a mile from Assad’s palace.

The fresh violence erupted during a visit by an envoy from China, which along with Russia recently supported Syria by vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution that would have condemned Assad’s regime.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called on all parties to stop violence that has killed more than 5,400 people since March of last year, according to the U.N.

However on the ground Saturday, security forces were dispersing the protesters and conducting a campaign of raids and arrests in the Mazzeh district, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Mourners flee

The funeral procession in Damascus was held for three people killed by security forces on Friday following protests in the area.

"They started firing at the crowd right after the burial. People are running and trying to take cover in the alleyways," said a witness, speaking to Reuters in Amman by telephone.

The opposition Syrian Revolution Coordination Union said the gunfire near the cemetery had killed one mourner and wounded four, including a woman who was hit in the head.

Up to 30,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets in the Mezze district of Damascus, some witnesses said.

Another activist who witnessed the violence said the procession numbered around 15,000, but that would still make it among the largest anti-government gatherings in regime-controlled central Damascus since the start of the revolt inspired by other Arab Spring uprisings around the Middle East and North Africa.

"It was a huge funeral that turned into a protest," said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. "There was no fear among the participants."

Amateur videos filmed by activists and posted online showed a crowd of people shouting "Allahu Akbar," or God is great, and "One, one, one, the Syrian people are one!"

China 'extremely concerned’

The violence erupted shortly after the Chinese envoy met with Assad at the presidential palace.

Speaking to reporters following the meeting, he said he was hopeful Syrian authorities would restore stability to the country soon.

Zhai backed a referendum that is at the center of the regime’s plan to defuse the unrest, and said China was "extremely concerned" about the escalation of the crisis.

"We hope that the referendum on the constitution and the parliamentary elections take place in a continuous way," Zhai said during a visit, according to Syrian state television.

"China … calls on the government, the opposition and those with arms for an immediate stop to the violence, Zhai was quoted as saying during a visit to Damascus to meet Assad. "The Chinese experience shows a nation cannot develop without stability.

The referendum would decide on the country’s new draft constitution that would create a multiparty system in Syria, ruled by the Assad family for 40 years.

The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a nonbinding resolution backing an Arab League plan calling for Assad to step down and strongly condemning human rights violations by his regime.

China not 'selfish’

Russia and China vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council on Feb. 4 and voted against the measure in the General Assembly.

"China has no selfish interests," Zhai said, defending the veto. He added that China’s "objective and just" position on Syria stemmed from its basic interest in the welfare of the Syrian people.

Zhai urged Syrians to participate in the planned referendum.

Assad’s call for a referendum, set for Feb. 26, has raised the question of how a nationwide vote could be held at a time when many areas see daily battles between Syrian troops and rebel soldiers. The opposition has opposed the referendum.

Zhai said the referendum "would be in the interest of the Syrian people."

Only in light of stability could Syria conduct comprehensive political reforms, he said.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Source


:: Article nr. 85821 sent on 19-feb-2012 02:31 ECT

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