Thursday, June 30, 2011

Egypt, Syria and Middle East unrest - live updates

The Guardian

"Some residents of the central Syrian city of Hama say the regime has already been toppled in the city, writes Nidaa Hassan.

"For two or three weeks, security forces have left Syria's fourth biggest city largely alone. "There are currently no posters of the president, no security forces and no checkpoints," said one young woman.

Activists say at least 70 peaceful protesters were killed on June 4 when security forces opened fire in the city during Friday protests. Two security guards were killed in revenge attacks after funerals, but when tanks approached the city the following weekend, they did not enter, according to some reports.

Others say the tanks entered for a day last week before withdrawing again. Residents say thousands of protesters now turn out for Friday demonstrations in the Town, with sit-ins in al-Assi square and demonstrations every night.

"The atmosphere is like a carnival," said a person who attended last Friday's protest. "There are old and young people, women, men and children; the whole city is out."

Syrians surmise that the government is leaving Hama alone because it doesn't know how to deal with a city deeply scarred by a previous crackdown in the 1980s. In the face of an Islamist uprising the government of then-president Hafez al-Assad launched a brutal army assault on Hama which killed at least 20,000 people, many of whom were civilians.....

Hama is not the only town which security forces appear to have withdrawn from. Residents of Deir Ezzor, a tribal city in the east also report the absence of security officials on recent days.....

Homs, Syria's third city, remains pinned down by army and security forces. Damascus and Aleppo have been largely free of mass uprisings but the security presence has been bulked up."
....Syrian troops have withdrawn from the cities of Hama, Deir Ezzor and some Damascus suburbs, according to Wissam Tarif, from the human rights group Insan.

He claimed the move was not tactical but a sign that the army is over stretched.

"It's exhaustion, it's an operation that is not sustainable," Tarif said in a Skype interview from the Hague, where is compiling evidence of human rights abuses in Syria.

Tarif pointed out that although the Syrian army is "huge" it is only the infamous 4th division and the republican guard who can now be relied upon to put down the unrest. They number about 60,000 troops, Tarif said.

He claims the withdrawal from areas raises big question about how the regime can finance the army. The withdrawal from Hama also potentially opens up an opposition base, Tarif said.

The regime does not know how to handle the opposition Local Co-ordination Committees, Tarif claimed.....

On human rights abuses, Tarif said the evidence was overwhelming. "So far we have presented evidence [to the ICC prosecutor's office] which shows that the crimes in Syria are systematic, widespread and define crimes against humanity."

He says there is evidence that 1,457 civilians have been killed by the security forces. The victims include 98 children....."

29 6 Hama أوغاريت حماة الاعتصام المسائي الحاشد في ساحة العاصي أربعاء حرق الفواتير , دقة عالية ج2

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