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SYRIA: Mass protests persist amid daunting security crackdown [Video]

June 27, 2011 |  9:08 am

Mass protests continued in various Syrian cities over the weekend after security forces imposed large-scale house arrests in the Damascus suburbs of Barzeh, Quswa and Douma as well as in the larger district of Homs, activists reported.   

According to Reuters and legal activist Razan Zeitouneh, five were killed in Barzeh and Homs on Saturday night.

“They were killed by security forces personnel who just barged into their houses,” Zeitouneh said of the deaths in Barzeh. Three hundred protestors have been arrested in Barzeh, which was the scene of bloodshed when protests broke out after prayers on Friday .

Activists reported that one protestor was shot and his body dragged from his house by security forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Plainclothes security forces were redeployed in Barzeh early Sunday morning, and several hundred are wanted,” said one activist in Damascus, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

According to the activist, security operations continued amid wide deployment of military personnel despite promises that the siege on Barzeh would be lifted.

Mass arrests swept across other areas known for participating in what are now weeklong protests as opposed to just Friday demonstrations.

According to activists, five Syrians, including one child, were detained in Deir Ezzor on Saturday afternoon.

Pro-democracy protestors have responded to the brutal crackdown by taking to the streets in fresh waves. Widely attended mass demonstrations resumed Saturday night despite tight security measures.  

Fresh amateur video posted online shows hundreds of protestors gathered for after-hours demonstrations in the cities of Deir Ezzor, Saqba, Idleb, Hama and Lattakia.

“It is he who doesn’t want Syria to be free and is spreading sectarianism,” sing hundreds of demonstrators on video in Deir Ezzor, referring to Assad.

According to activists, 10,000 protestors took to the streets by 10 p.m. around Midlajah Square chanting for freedom and the toppling of the regime. 

In the Syrian capital, demonstrations in the Kurdish neighborhood of Rkn Alden brought hundreds to the streets Saturday evening, calling for the release of detained protesters. Anti-regime demonstrators were met with live ammunition by plainclothes security forces, the activist in Damascus reported.

The fresh violence against protestors comes less than a week after the Assad promised reforms in a more than hour-long address to the nation’s popular council.

“As a member of this democratic movement I feel offended. How can [Assad] make all those promises of reform and then take the lives of our children and neighbors? Who was he addressing? Certainly not us,” said a legal activist in Homs, who preferred that his name not be used.

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Video: Protestors demanding the end of Bashar Assad's regime take to the streets in night demonstrations in the Damascus suburb of Saqba. Credit: YouTube