More unrest and more killings
Yesterday saw the usual Friday prayers followed by mass demonstrations across Syria.
The opposition decided that the day would be dedicated to calling for the Arab League to place more pressure on the Syrian government. Some were calling for the Arab League to implement a no fly zone over the country whilst others wanted Syria’s membership of the Arab League to be suspended.
The 22 member Arab League meets today in Cairo to discuss the situation. It is clear that its 2nd November initiative hasn’t worked. The Arab League had hoped that it had secured an agreement with the Syrian government to withdraw its forces from hotspot cities, to free political prisoners and to start talks with the opposition. None of these have happened and at least 104 more people have died since 2nd November in security forces clampdowns.
The main focus of violence yesterday was Homs yet again. Around 37 people are thought to have died with leaked video’s (if genuine) suggesting that security forces were bombarding residential areas.
The Syrian government has welcomed a request from the Arab League to make a further visit, saying that they can show proof that this is not a people’s uprising but attacks by terrorists which are being repelled.
The Syrian official news agency SANA reports today that “Three citizens and two law enforcement members were martyred, two other members and two citizens were injured on Friday by the gunfire of terrorist groups in the central provinces of Homs and Hama”.
In another news report which would suggest that there have been protests by civilians the agency states that “In a statement to SANA correspondent, the Chief (Brig Gen Jamal Bitar, Chief of the Police) confirmed that Latakia has witnessed no problems on Friday and the citizens calmly performed the Friday Prayers.
Meanwhile Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Russia is willing to assist the opposing sides to start a reconciliation dialogue. There are clear indications now that army deserters are fighting the armed forces and that the protests are involving more and more armed interventions. Protesters have made it clear that they want President Bashar al-Assad out and it is unlikely that with more than 3,500 deaths since the beginning of the year that they are in the mood for reconciliation talks.