A grab from a video on YouTube is said to show Syrian demonstrators in the northeastern city of Qamishli yesterday
Security forces killed at least seven people as they fired on protesters rallying in their tens of thousands across Syria on the last Friday of Ramadan and vowing to bring down the regime. © - - AFP
A grab from a video on YouTube is said to show Syrian demonstrators in the northeastern city of Qamishli yesterday
<
>
AFP
Last updated: August 29, 2011

Two more killed in Syria as Iran warns of vacuum

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces killed two more protesters Saturday, as close ally Iran said his government should recognise "legitimate" popular demands and warned of an unpredictable regional vacuum if the regime falls.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported the United States and Israel are monitoring Syria's suspected weapons of mass destruction, fearing chemical agents and long-range missiles could fall into terrorist hands.

In the latest bloodletting, one demonstrator was killed and 10 hurt when club-wielding security forces attacked a group of people leaving prayers at the Rifai mosque in the capital's western quarter of Kafar Susseh, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Among the wounded was the imam of the mosque, Osama al-Rifai.

The Local Coordination Committees, which groups activists on the ground, confirmed the death, but said 12 people had been injured.

Demonstrations were also reported in the northern Damascus quarter Roukn Edinne and in Zabadani, 45 kilometres (28 miles) north of the capital, the Observatory said.

Separately, the Observatory said one person was killed and five wounded in Kafar Nabel, in Idlib.

On Friday, the last during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, security forces killed at least seven people as they fired on protesters rallying in their tens of thousands across Syria and vowing to bring down the regime.

An eighth man died in detention, his family told rights groups.

Spurred by calls posted on the Internet, protesters flooded the streets in the north, centre and south of the country, chanting "Bashar, we don't love you, even if you turn night into day," according to activists.

In the latest call for Assad to pay heed, Iran called on his government to listen to its people.

"The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria Yemen or other countries," Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in Tehran.

"The people of these nations have legitimate demands and the governments should reply to these demands as soon as possible," the ISNA news agency quoted him as saying.

But Salehi warned about toppling the Syrian regime.

"A vacuum in the Syrian regime would have an unpredictable impact for the region and its neighbours," Salehi said, referring to calls by the United States and European leaders for Assad to step down.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal on Friday cited unnamed officials in the United States and Israel as saying both countries are monitoring Syria's suspected nonconventional arms, fearing that terror groups could take advantage of the unrest to obtain chemical agents and long-range missiles.

The newspaper said US intelligence services believe Syria possesses significant stockpiles of mustard, VX and Sarin gasses and the missile and artillery systems to deliver them.

United Nations investigators also recently concluded that Damascus had been secretly constructing a nuclear reactor with North Korean help before Israeli jets destroyed the site in late 2007, the report said.

At the United Nations, the Security Council remained divided over measures against Assad's regime, with Russia and China blocking bids to pass fresh sanctions, including a total arms embargo.

On Friday, Russia proposed a resolution that would omit Western calls to sanction Assad, urging him only to implement reforms and both sides to engage in dialogue.

It conflicts with a European-US motion that would provide for sanctions, which Russia has hinted it would veto.

At the United Nations, a spokesman said a humanitarian mission just returned from Syria found an "urgent need" to protect civilians against excessive force and reported widespread intimidation.

The mission was the first allowed into Syria since Assad launched his deadly crackdown on opposition protests when they broke out in mid-March.

Regionally, the ruler of Qatar said Syria's use of force to quash dissent was "fruitless."

The United Nations says more than 2,200 have been killed since the protests began.

blog comments powered by Disqus