SYRIA: Videos show large student protest in Aleppo, the second largest city
They came in the thousands, according to activists and video posted to the Internet, gathering on a university campus in the country's second largest city, Aleppo, on Wednesday night. They called for freedom. They were met with the truncheons of a brutal police state.
According to a Syrian activist website on Facebook, around 6,000 people took part in a rally at Aleppo University where crowds called for freedom. Other reports said protesters also chanted in solidarity with the besieged Syrian cities of Dara, Homs and Baniyas.
The video footage above, said to have been shot at Wednesday night's rally, shows a large crowd chanting and clapping inside what appears to be a university campus as cars passing on the other side of the gates honk loudly.
Below, in a clip claimed to have been filmed at the same rally, crowds are shouting "God is Great" and chanting their support for Dara.
"With our soul and blood we sacrifice to Daraa", demonstrators say. There were reports about two protests in Aleppo on Wednesday night, one of which supposedly started around the city's Al-Rahman mosque as the student rally was under way.
Soon enough, forces loyal to President Bashar Assad were reported to have moved in on protesters and tried to disperse the crowds. Below, footage shows how plainclothes government enforcers, known as "shabiha," are making arrests in the streets on Wednesday night. It appears to have been filmed near the campus gates and shows some disturbances in the street as chants are heard in the background.
Activists said security forces had raided student residential units and arrested a number of students.
Wednesday's protests in Aleppo appear to have been the biggest student rally there to date since anti-government protests broke out in Syria in March. However, the city center of Aleppo has so far been largely untouched by the wave of protests. Syrian authorities have done everything they can to keep demonstrations out of the centers of the capital Damascus and Aleppo.
Last week, the journalist and activist Jihad Jamal, known by his nickname "Milan" on the Internet, was arrested by security forces at a cafe in Aleppo, reports say. The man who owned the laptop that Jamal used had also been arrested, added the report.
-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut
Video credit: YouTube