The death toll from the insurrection, which began in mid-March after protests in Deraa, now stands at 757, with 9,000 people who have been arrested still in custody
By Khalid Ali
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
"The Syrian regime continued its brutal wave of repression yesterday as it sent troops into southern villages around the trouble-hit city of Deraa in spite of EU sanctions announced earlier this week, which targeted top Baathist officials.
Shooting was heard as the army moved in on the five villages in the early hours of yesterday, though no casualties were reported....
The sanctions come as one Syrian human rights group said the death toll from the insurrection, which began to gather momentum in mid-March after protests in Deraa, now stood at 757. The National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria also said 9,000 people who had been arrested were still in custody. The Independent has also learned that there are now plans by prominent activists inside and outside Syria to issue a declaration within a matter of weeks to establish what has been described as a "shadow government".
A document, being circulated among academics, religious leaders and opposition political figures, is calling for the creation of a Syrian "national council" to devise a blueprint for a post-Baathist state.
Ausama Monajed, a London-based spokesman for the National Initiative for Change, an opposition umbrella group, said: "We plan to get hundreds of people to sign the document. It is a vision for the transitional period."
According to Wissam Tarif, executive of the Spain-based Syrian rights organisation Insan, the declaration would provide a "road map" for the kind of political system which might follow the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who has been in power since 2000 and who took control after his father died following 30 years in power.
"What they are doing is very important," he said. "They are trying to figure out what might happen next."
Activists have not decided where the declaration will be made, but it is likely to happen in a neighbour of Syria, such as Turkey or Jordan....."