Syrian security forces open fire on mourners

April 23rd, 2011 - 11:38 pm ICT by BNO News  

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (BNO NEWS) — Syrian security forces on Saturday killed at least five demonstrators in Damascus as thousands gathered across the country to mourn the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters killed the day before.

A witness told CNN that security forces on the rooftops of government buildings fired shots as people marched from the burial grounds towards the main hospital in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

“We were chanting ‘with our bloods with our souls we will sacrifice for you martyrs.’ And all of sudden and without warning, they fired indiscriminately into the crowd,” the witness said.

Wissam Tarif, a human rights activist who is not in Syria but remains in contact with activists across the country, told CNN he was told the forces were firing at random targets. He added that activists have confirmed at least 84 deaths from Friday’s confrontations between protesters and security forces.

The Syrian Arab News Agency said a “limited number of demonstrators” came out on Friday and that security forces settled “scuffles that erupted between demonstrators and citizens”.

A Syrian parliament member, Khalil Al Rifai, resigned in protest at the violence. He said in a television interview that security forces opened fire even though President Bashar al-Assad promised not to use force against protesters.

Friday’s protests came a day after President al-Assad lifted the country’s 48-year-old state of emergency and abolished the state security court, both of which were key demands of the demonstrators.

In mid-March, pro-democracy demonstrations began in Syria and have continued across the country, which has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963. Protesters are demanding the ouster of al-Assad, who took over the post from his father Hafez al-Assad in 2000, and calling for greater freedoms including the end of the 1963 state of emergency.

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