Protests continue in Syria after army deployed in cities

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, May 4, 2011
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Anti-government protests continued in Syria on Tuesday after the government deployed soldiers across the country. However, the number of protesters has notably decreased.

Pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV has reported that demonstrators rallied in the countryside of the capital Damascus, Homs and Hama on Monday night, calling for more protests to force the government to lift siege to Daraa.

Al-Jazeera cited a prominent rights activist as saying that Syrian authorities have arrested more than 1,000 people in their latest security sweep across the country.

Meanwhile, a Syrian military source said on Tuesday that army units and security forces continued chasing "armed terrorist groups" in Daraa.

The authorities have arrested a number of people who had conducted acts of "sabotage and terrorism" against citizens recently, the source said.

One week ago, army units and security forces equipped with tanks and armored vehicles were deployed in Daraa city, the hotbed of the demonstrations that erupted six weeks earlier. Soldiers were also reportedly deployed in other cities such as Homs, Banias and Douma town near Damascus.

"Both sides, the government and protesters, should stop shooting at each other," Syrian political analyst George Jabbour told Xinhua. "If one side stops shooting, the other side will be encouraged to do the same thing," he added.

The deadline set up by the interior ministry is adequate for all parties to end the unrest and start comprehensive national dialogue, Jabbour said.

On Monday, the Syrian interior ministry set a deadline of 15 days for people who had committed "unlawful acts" such as bearing arms or attacking security forces to give themselves up and hand their weapons in to the authorities.

Syria has been witnessing unprecedented anti-government protests that erupted six weeks ago in Daraa calling for releasing 15 teenagers who had been arrested for writing anti-regime graffiti on a wall. The protests have spread into other parts of the country including the capital Damascus.

Syria which accused "armed groups and terrorists" of attempting to stir unrest has been banning media to cover the unrest, which made it difficult to verify any of the contradicted reports.

While Syrian human rights groups accused the authorities of shooting dead at least 580 citizens since the beginning of the protests, military resources said the death toll is 148 at most.

President Bashar al-Assad has issued a series of reform procedures including lifting 48-year-long state of emergency which failed to contain the protests.

Many of Syrians, however, believed that the authorities should be given a chance to conduct its reform initiatives.

"The Syrian people generally are demanding reforms, but this reform could not be conducted in days as demonstrators think," journalist Khalil al-Hamlo said.

Newly-appointed Prime Minister Adel Safar said on Saturday that his government had set up a "complete plan" of political, judicial and economic reforms amid expectations that such step could ease the country's unprecedented turmoil.

The United States have imposed "targeted sanctions" against several officials in Assad's government. However, these sanctions are considered as symbolic that would not have serious effects on the Syrian leadership.

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