Monday, April 11, 2011

Syria deploys army in troubled city

Residents say Baniyas is calm after deadly clashes left four civilians and one soldier dead as protests continue.


"Army has been deployed in Syria's coastal city of Baniyas after several people were killed by men loyal to Bashar al-Assad, the president, residents have said. An eyewitness from Baniyas told Al Jazeera on Monday that the army had been deployed inside the city after initially sealing it off. The resident told our correspondent that the city is calm but tense. Funerals are scheduled to be held for four people killed on Sunday.....

Members of the group that came under attack were armed with sticks and guarding the Abu Bakr al-Siddiq mosque when they were confronted by Assad loyalists, known as shabbiha [ghosts], who fired at them with automatic rifles from speeding cars, the Reuters news agency reported.....

Details were sketchy because telephone lines, internet access and electricity were apparently cut to most parts of the city. [just as Gaddafi is doing in Libya!] One witness said dozens of people were wounded, but most of them asked to be treated at a small clinic instead of the main hospital, which was under the control of the security forces. Anti-regime slogans "There are demonstrations throughout the city and people are chanting against the regime," said Haitham al-Maleh, an 80-year-old lawyer and longtime rights activist who spent years as a political prisoner in Syria. The accounts could not be independently confirmed as the government placed severe restrictions on news coverage and many journalists were ordered to leave the country. Sunday's clashes came as days of protests and violence in Daraa, the southern flashpoint city, forced many schools and government offices to close. "Daraa is 80 per cent paralysed today, the children were sent back home from school and most of the government buildings are not operational," a local witness told Al Jazeera on Sunday....."

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