Syrian Forces Kill Five Protesters

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 12:05 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Syrian security forces have opened fire on protesters, killing at least five people while thousands of Syrians continue to flee into neighboring Turkey.

Rights groups and witnesses say three people were shot dead during a large rally in a Damascus suburb on Friday. Two protesters were also reportedly killed in a village in the southern flashpoint Daraa region, where security forces in a vehicle opened fire on demonstrators.

However, Syria's state-run television says gunmen shot and killed a security force member but did not mention civilian deaths.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press quotes activists who say heavy government shelling in a northern border region has killed or injured dozens of people.

Military forces moved into the Jisr al-Shughour region after the government said “armed gangs” had killed 120 security personnel in the area, which is near the Turkish border. Most of the town's residents reportedly fled this week after the government promised a military response.

Turkish news reports said Friday the number of Syrians who have fled across the border region into Turkey has swelled to almost 3,000.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Syrian government for its crackdown on protests. The semi-official Anatolia news agency quotes him as calling the crackdown an “atrocity” and saying the Syrian government has not behaved “humanely.” He added that Turkey is making plans for a refugee buffer zone on the border.

Diplomatic efforts to quiet Syria's unrest are unfolding on several fronts. Russian special envoy Mikhail Margelov said Friday that he planned to meet soon with representatives of Syria's opposition.

Also, diplomats at the United Nations are circulating a draft resolution that calls for the Security Council to condemn the Syrian government's crackdown. Earlier, Russia said it opposes the measure because Syria's unrest does not pose a threat to world peace or security.

In Brussels, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the “slaughter of innocent lives” in Syria should be a concern for everyone.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the Syrian crackdown that began in March and more than 10,000 people arrested.