Saturday, April 23, 2011


Bloodbath New Threat to Assad
The Sydney Morning Herald, April 24, 2011
"US President Barack Obama has condemned Syria's 'outrageous' use of violence, after Syrian security forces met thousands of demonstrators with fusillades of live ammunition, killing at least 81 people in the bloodiest day of the five-week-old Syrian uprising. Protesters gathered on Friday in at least 20 cities and towns, including in the outskirts of the capital, Damascus. Cries for vengeance intersected with calls for the government's fall, marking a potentially dangerous new dynamic in the revolt. 'We want revenge, and we want blood,' said Abu Mohamed, a protester in Azra, a southern town that had the highest death toll on Friday. 'Blood for blood.' The breadth of the protests -- and people's willingness to defy massed security forces -- painted a picture of turmoil in one of the Arab world's most authoritarian countries. In scenes unprecedented only weeks ago, protesters tore down pictures of President Bashar Assad and toppled statues of his father Hafez in two towns on the capital's outskirts. Coming a day after Mr. Assad endorsed the lifting of draconian emergency rule, the killings were another chapter in the government's strategy of alternating promises of concessions with a grim crackdown that has left it staggering but still entrenched. 'There are indications the regime is scared and this is adding to the momentum, but this is still the beginning,' said Wissam Tarif, executive director of Insan, a Syrian human rights group. Abu Nadim, a protester in Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus, said: 'We are not scared any more. We are sad and disappointed at this regime and the president. Protests, demonstrations and death are now part of the daily routine.' In a sharply worded statement, President Obama said the 'outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now.Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria's citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies.' In the capital, hundreds gathered after Friday prayers at the al-Hassan Mosque. But security forces dispersed the protests with tear gas, witnesses said. [...]"

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