4 students slain as Syrian security forces storm university

 

BEIRUT -- At least four Aleppo University students were killed and 200 arrested as Syrian security forces raided dormitories early Thursday morning, activists said.

Armed forces stormed the dorms a little after midnight accompanied by heavy gunfire and tear gas, said Abu Amaar, a university activist.

Online video said to be shot from a dorm window shows security forces walking outside the dormitory area known as University City, with the sound of gunfire heard loudly in the background. "The security forces are firing intensively," says the cameraman. 

The university has been the site of some of Aleppo's most energetic and consistent dissent in the nationwide uprising calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, although Syria's second-largest city has been seen as largely on the sidelines of the unrest.

The raid came a day after a large protest by more than 1,000 students who gathered in the university courtyard, said Abu Amaar, who asked to be identified only by his nickname out of fear of retribution. For months, demonstrators have emerged from some departments, and recently students have been able to organize more protests unifying many faculties.  

Soon after dawn Thursday, the university was shut down until further notice and students were sent home, which for many means the small towns near Aleppo that have risen up in armed opposition to the regime, Abu Amaar said.

But many students still managed to gather in the courtyard again for what was described as an even larger demonstration.

One activist who requested anonymity said students were standing in the streets waiting for what they were told was the imminent arrival of United Nations observers. But by early afternoon, the observers had yet to come, she said.

Other videos posted online are said to show the aftermath of the raids inside the dorm. Windows were smashed and glass littered the ground; furniture has been thrown around and walls damaged. In one video, a young man carries a bucket of water down a hall and throws it on a fire that rages in one room.

The Times could not independently verify the contents of the videos.

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-- Alexandra Sandels

 
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