Egyptian police stand guard outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo
Egyptian police stand guard outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo after protesters stormed the building and set fire to the ground floor of the mission. © Christophe de Roquefeuil - AFP
Egyptian police stand guard outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo
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AFP
Last updated: February 4, 2012

Syria protesters target embassies in Europe and the Middle East

Dozens of Syrian protesters were arrested Saturday after storming their country's embassies in cities in Europe and the Middle East, smashing windows and setting fire in one case.

Missions in London, Athens, Cairo, Kuwait City and Jeddah were targeted in protests Saturday, following a similar raid on the regime's embassy in Berlin the previous day.

The attacks came as Syria's opposition said troops had committed a "massacre" overnight, killing more than 200 people in the central city of Homs, and as the UN Security Council readied for a crucial vote.

Demonstrators smashed windows and tried to break into the Syrian embassy in London, hours after six protesters were arrested for entering the building overnight.

Scuffles broke out between riot police and around 200 protesters outside the plush property in London's Belgrave Square, which is home to a string of embassies.

Protesters threw rocks, bottles and pieces of scaffolding at the embassy from behind a police cordon, shattering windows.

"Shame on the UK, shame on Russia, shame on China, shame on the United Nations for leaving us to die," said protester Noor el-Huda Amin, a Syrian Egyptian born in London.

"The police don't understand why we are so passionate," she told AFP. "We have to get a reaction. We cannot wait any longer. Our families are being killed."

A Scotland Yard spokesman said five people had been arrested for gaining access to the building after the demonstration started around 2:00 am (0200 GMT). A sixth person was arrested for assaulting an officer.

The Foreign Office condemned the incident, saying London "takes seriously its obligations to protect the staff and premises of foreign states in the UK".

In Athens, about 50 mostly Syrian protesters broke into their country's embassy, smashing windows and painting anti-government slogans on the walls, a police source said. Police detained 12 Syrians and an Iraqi.

In Cairo, dozens of activists tore down the gate to the embassy in the upscale Garden City neighbourhood, ransacked the mission and set fire to its ground floor.

An AFP correspondent said the embassy's walls were charred and broken glass littered the ground, along with damaged furniture and computers.

In Kuwait City, hundreds of angry Syrians and local activists stormed the embassy, removing the flag and destroying utilities, the interior ministry said, adding that some 40 people were arrested.

Security personnel assigned to guard the embassy "fired warning gunshots" but failed to deter the protesters, who injured a number of the Kuwaiti guards, it said.

In Jeddah, dozens of Syrians demonstrated outside the consulate, chanting "with our souls, with our blood, we sacrifice ourselves for the martyrs," before being dispersed by security forces.

A day earlier in Berlin around 20 protesters broke into the Syrian embassy and "destroyed furniture, hung a flag from a window" and wrote slogans on the walls. All were arrested but released after police took their details.

Dozens of people also gathered outside the Syrian embassy in the suburbs of Tunis Saturday after the Tunisian government said it was expelling the ambassador and refusing the recognise Assad's regime as a legitimate government.

The actions came after Syria's army randomly bombarded the protest hub of Homs overnight, killing at least 260 civilians in one of the "most horrific massacres" in the country's uprising, an opposition group said.

In a statement sent to AFP in Beirut, the Syrian National Council urged the world to act and demanded that Russia change its position in the UN Security Council and condemn President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

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