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SYRIA: Videos said to show violent clashes in Damascus suburbs

July 16, 2011 |  6:32 am

Protesters quickly run for cover behind a wall in the Damascus suburb of Qabon on Friday as gunfire starts ringing out around them. The most daring stay put and throw stones in the direction of the shots.

 

Syria witnessed another day of violence and bloodshed Friday as mass protests erupted across the country with at least 27 people reported killed by security forces and pro-regime elements. Most of the deaths were reported in the suburbs of Damascus, where large crowds took to the streets to call for the fall of Syrian ruler Bashar Assad and his regime, according to amateur video footage posted to the Internet.

The large demonstrations and the high death toll in the suburbs of Damascus could signal that anti-Assad sentiment is gaining strength in the capital.

Before the outbreak of violence in Qabon, a large number of protesters carrying colorful balloons and banners scorning the Syrian leader marched down a narrow street in the neighborhood following Friday prayers, according to the clip posted below. "Go out Bashar," read one sign. "Game over Bashar" read another. Meanwhile, a narrator can be heard mocking Syrian state media in the background.

"150 protesters ... the correspondent of the Syria satellite channel and the Syrian media are liars," he says.

 

Here, protesters are purportedly seen marching in a similar demonstration on Friday in Qadam-- another suburb of Damascus in this clip.

 

Large crowds also turned out for anti-regime rallies after weekly Muslim prayers in the district of Barze near Damascus, according to the footage below. Demonstrators are seen holding banners denouncing the government's handling of pro-democracy protests and its "empty" talks of reform. "More killing and false promises," reads one sign. Another appears to read, "Reform = Shutting down telecommunications. Shutting down the electricity. Security checkpoints?"

 

Eyewitnesses and activists said security forces responded with severe violence to the protests, likely in a bid to halt protests from coming closer to the capital. The video footage posted below allegedly shows a pro-regime thug commonly known as Shabiba firing gunshots in Qabon on Friday.

Activists reported more than 10 killings in Qabon, where opposition activists were scheduled to hold a meeting Saturday in coordination with a simultaneous opposition conference in Istanbul, Turkey, to form a plan for getting Assad out of power. But after Friday's deaths, organizers decided to call it off due to security concerns.

"As the security forces [have] killed 11 at least in Qabon near the conference hall they canceled it,"  a member of the Syrian activist network, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCCSyria), told Babylon & Beyond, adding that some opposition activists are instead attending the conference online.

 

But protesters appeared defiant in the face of violence, challenging security forces and even forcing them to back up as this video below purportedly shows. It is said to depict demonstrators in Jobar near Damascus, some with their faces covered to prevent identification by Assad troops, chanting "One hand one hand" and pushing back what looks like a security vehicle by throwing stones at it. Toward the end of the clip, crowds storm out from around a corner shouting "Freedom" and start racing toward the vehicle, forcing it to back up into an alley.

 

 -- Los Angeles Times

Photo and video credit: YouTube

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