Syrian Forces Kill Two Near Homs as Wave of Arrests Made Around Damascus (Bloomberg)
(Bloomberg) Syrian security forces carried out widespread arrests overnight as anti-government protesters took to the streets in the suburbs of the capital after 13 people were killed in rallies.
Demonstrations took place in the Damascus suburbs of Douma, Barzeh, Harasta and Daraya yesterday night, said Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, in a phone interview from Syria. Security forces fired on anti-government protesters in several cities May 27 as they broke up rallies nationwide, pushing the death toll past 1,100 since demonstrations against the government of President Bashar Al- Assad began in mid-March, said Ammar Qurabi, head of Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights.
Syrian opposition groups and activists will hold a conference in Turkey May 31 in support of the protesters demanding political changes, according to Qurabi. The three-day event in the Mediterranean city of Antalya will bring together more than 200 people, he said.
The European Union announced sanctions on Syria May 23 aimed at “the highest level of leadership,” as well as a review of aid programs. The U.S. froze the assets of Assad and top officials. In a speech earlier this month President Barack Obama urged Assad to stop the killing and lead a peaceful transition to democracy or “get out of the way.”
Syria’s government has blamed the unrest on Islamic militants and “terrorist elements” seeking to destabilize the country. Assad initially promised reforms in response to the protests, which followed popular uprisings that ousted rulers in Tunisia and Egypt. Those pledges haven’t been repeated in recent weeks as security forces stepped up their crackdown.