Syrian Forces Kill At Least Six as Protests Spread

Posted December 9th, 2011 at 10:00 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists say security forces killed at least six people across the country on Friday, including two children, as anti-government protests spread nationwide.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two boys, ages 10 and 12, were shot and killed at separate security checkpoints near the restive city of Homs.

Despite a surge in violence this week, Syrians took the streets following Friday prayers in support of a “dignity strike.” Activists say demonstrations were held in Homs, the southern city of Daraa, the northwestern city of Idlib, near the Turkey-Syria border, and in Deir el-Zour, in the eastern part of the country.

Syrian activists are calling for a nationwide strike, beginning on Sunday, in an attempt to bring down the regime through civil disobedience. The Local Coordination Committee, which is behind the country's peaceful protests, is urging citizens to hold sit-ins; to close shops, universities and public transportation; and to refuse to work in the public sector.

The observatory is reporting government forces opened fired on opposition protesters in Homs on Friday, the epicenter of the regime's bloody crackdown. The opposition Syrian National Council issued a statement warning of a looming “massacre” as government security forces surrounded Homs.

This has been one of the most violent weeks in Syria since the pro-democracy uprising began nine months ago, with the Observatory reporting more than 65 people killed since Sunday.


On Friday, Turkey urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to punish the “murders” and to accept the proposal of the Arab League. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says his country does not want to intervene in Syria's internal affairs, but he says Turkey can not stand by when Syria's violence is affecting its neighboring countries.

Turkey shares a southern border with Syria and is providing a safe haven to members of the opposition group, the Syrian National Council.

Davutoglu's comments in response to Mr. Assad's rare interview with an American journalist, aired on Wednesday. In the interview, Mr. Assad denied that he ordered the killing of thousands of anti-government protesters. Mr. Assad told ABC News he does not control the forces implementing his country's brutal crackdown.

The United Nations reports that at least 4,000 people have been killed since the unrest erupted in March.