Eight killed in Syria protests, world pressure grows (Reuters)


(Reuters) – Syrian security forces shot dead eight people on Friday, rights campaigners said, as protesters defied a nationwide crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad.

Rights groups estimate at least 1,000 people have been killed over 10 weeks. Leaders at a Group of Eight meeting in France said they were “appalled” at the killing of peaceful protesters, demanding an immediate end to the use of force.

On Friday, campaigners said three protesters were killed in the central city of Homs, another three in the Damascus suburb of Qatana, one in the town of Zabadani near the border with Lebanon, and one in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Troops also fired at protesters calling for the “overthrow of the regime” in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, a human rights group and residents said. Demonstrators later staged a night rally in a city square, a witness said.

Deir al-Zor is the capital of Deir al-Zor province which accounts for most of Syria’s 380,000 barrel per day oil output.

“The ‘Amn’ (security police) fired in the air to disperse them but they did not move. I have two sons among the crowd,” said one witness in the city.

“The demands of the street in Deir al-Zor were ‘freedom, justice and equality’. They changed to ‘overthrow of the regime’ when the Amn started killing protesters,” he added.

People’s anger in the region is confounded by water shortages there in the last few years which some experts blame on mismanagement and corruption.

Activists said demonstrations continued into the night in Hama. Tens of thousands of people marched earlier in the city where an army assault to crush an armed Islamist uprising in 1982 killed up to 30,000 people.

Separately on Friday, troops opened fire at a group of youth marching at night in the town of Madaya, a resident said.

“They were chanting ‘God is greatest‘ when they came under fire. We do not know where to take them. All the roads out of Madaya are blocked by the army,” said the resident, who gave his name as Abu Ali.

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