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SYRIA: Banias protesters wave bread in solidarity

May 3, 2011 | 12:34 pm

 

Thousands of protesters gathered Tuesday in the coastal Syrian town of Banias, demanding freedom from Syria's authoritarian regime, witnesses said.

Syrian officials have blocked media access, making it difficult to verify eyewitness reports and video footage.

However, in one of the latest videos to emerge from the ongoing turmoil, protesters in Banias Tuesday appeared to be shaking bread as an offering of solidarity to compatriots in the besieged southern city of Dara. The video is entitled, “Raise the bread to lift the siege of Dara.”

A youth activist from Banias who reported that he helped organize Tuesday’s demonstration in the city center said Syrian authorities sent military reinforcements and armed "thugs" to block entrances to the city’s market while arming militias in areas surrounding the city who are sympathetic to President Bashar Assad’s regime.

“So far it is a peaceful protest,” one Banias demonstrator told the Associated Press, asking not to be identified for fear of reprisals. “Some people are carrying loaves of bread and baby's milk because our city is under siege and we can't come or go … We are running out of supplies.”

Human rights groups say that at least 545 Syrians have been killed since the Syrian uprising began in mid-March in Dara. Others have disappeared.

A Banias activist told the Associated Press that a mechanic who was called to fix a car for the local branch of the political security department Sunday has not been heard from since. Three other men have been missing for days after security agents picked them up at a gas station as they were filling their tank, he said.

The activist, asking that his name not be used for fear of government reprisals, said many people in the area were afraid to venture outside.

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Video: Pro-democracy protesters in the Syrian coastal city of Banias wave bread in solidarity with fellow protesters in the besieged southern city of Dara. Credit: YouTube

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