Syrian president says security services made mistakes

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the authorities have made some mistakes in their handling of anti-government protests since mid-March.

Mr Assad told a group of dignitaries that most of the blame lay with poorly trained members of the security services, the al-Watan newspaper said.

Mr Assad said 4,000 personnel would receive training "to prevent these excesses" being repeated

But he said Syria had now “overcome the crisis” and it was coming to an end.

The admission came as the BBC received new reports of attacks on civilians in a town near the border with Lebanon.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon told the BBC they had fled scenes of great violence in the town of Tal Kalakh, which has been under siege by the army for several days. Activists say at least 27 people have been killed.

In Syria itself, a general strike called by an influential anti-government website, Syrian Revolution 2011, appears to have had little impact.


Residents of the capital said no-one would dare answer the call.

The Syrian leader told a delegation from the southern Damascus district of Midan that his security services had made mistakes handling protests, al-Watan reported on Wednesday.

He attributed the shortcomings to a lack of experience with such situations, which he said would normally be the police’s responsibility.

Thousands of Syrian civilians are continuing to flee the violence in Tal Kalakh

“The role of the security services is to gather information, analyse it and hand it over to the proper authorities,” the president said.

Shot over a cow

One woman described how a relative was killed when she fled.

Having started her escape, she turned back because she decided she wanted to bring her cow with her. She was shot in the head.

Officials have told the state news agency, Sana, that the violence is being carried out by armed gangs who have crossed into Syria from Lebanon.

But the refugees blamed the Syrian army and said they had no idea when they would be able to go back to their homes.

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