killed in Syria as West pushes for UN action
DAMASCUS: Security forces killed four people in Syria on
Thursday and used heavy machine-guns against protesters,
rights groups said, as the West keeps pushing for UN
action against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported two
deaths in the central city of Homs, while the Arab
League of Human Rights said two people were killed in
Deir Ezzor, a city in eastern Syria.
More than 11 people were wounded, some seriously, in
Homs, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of Damascus, when
security forces opened up with heavy machine-guns, the
Syrian Observatory said.
Sustained gunfire ran into late Thursday, the group
Abdel Karim Rihawi of the Arab League of Human Rights
said at least five people were wounded in Deir Ezzor,
and added the mood was "tense, with residents
observing a general strike."
State television, meanwhile, said gunmen in the
flashpoint city of Hama, north of Damascus, had
kidnapped two members of the security forces and a
The Syrian Revolution 2011, a Facebook page that has
been a driving force behind almost four months of
anti-regime protests, called for nationwide strikes on
On Wednesday, security forces killed four civilians in
the Jebel al-Zawiya region of the northwestern province
of Idlib, where the army deployed two weeks ago to crush
the revolt, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian
His group reported a wave of arrests in the village of
Ramieh in the region on Thursday.
Rihawi said security forces wielding batons dispersed
250 intellectuals and writers in Damascus's Midan
district on Wednesday as they gathered, sang the
national anthem and chanted "God, Syria,
Four people were arrested, he said.
The Syrian Observatory on Thursday put the death toll
since anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March at 1,419
civilians and 352 members of the security forces, with
more than 1,300 people arrested.
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso
dismissed Assad's reform promises on Thursday and
stressed that the European Union would keep up calls for
"urgent change" in Damascus.
"President Assad's promises of reform and dialogue
are weak and have yet to be fulfilled," Barroso
said in Cairo.
He said the EU, which has twice stepped up its sanctions
against Damascus since the revolt erupted, "will
continue to push for urgent change."
The West has been ratcheting up pressure for UN Security
Council action against Damascus, with France slamming
China and Russia's "indecent" opposition to
Four European countries -- Britain, France, Germany,
Portugal -- have for several weeks been drafting a
resolution to put before the Security Council condemning
the crackdown and calling for political reforms.
But China and Russia -- the latter a longtime strategic
ally of Syria -- maintain their opposition to any
international interference in the country.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the
"absolutely inadmissible" attitude of Assad,
warning that "every dictator who sheds blood will
have to make amends" before international courts.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the
French-led appeals for the international community to
crack down on Syria.
Diplomacy was about more than just settling
"political scores," Lavrov said at a news
conference with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in
Washington on Wednesday.
"Our goal is to solve problems, but just condemning
people without any solution will not lead us to