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Image of a young girl carrying a Syrian flag as troops withdraw from Deir el-Zour earlier this week. The photo was taken during a Government organised media tour.
Image of a young girl carrying a Syrian flag as troops withdraw from Deir el-Zour earlier this week. The photo was taken during a Government organised media tour.
Image: Bassem Tellawi/AP/Press Association Images

At least 22 dead in Syria as troops open fire on protestors

Activist groups have said that at least 22 people have died today as demonstrations against the current government continue across Syria today.
Aug 19th 2011, 7:18 PM 117 1

SYRIAN SECURITY FORCES opened fire on thousands of protestors today, killing at least 22 people across the country.

Activist group, the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria, has claimed that 22 civilians were shot dead by troops loyal to unpopular President Bashar Assad.

Assad’s crackdown on anti-government protests has continued despite calls from the US and the UN to halt the violence against civilians.

Today’s attacks come just hours after the UN claimed the Syrian government could be guilty of “crimes against humanity”, reports Al Jazeera. A report by the UN human rights office was released yesterday following a month-long investigation. The report also asked the Security Council to consider referring the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Pro-democracy demonstrations continued in many towns and cities across the Middle Eastern country today and deaths were reported in Deraa, Homs, Hama and the Damascus suburb or Harasta.

Six people were also killed when security forces stormed a mosque in the village of Inkhil in Deraa, according to activists speaking to Al Jazeera.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that tanks and armed soldiers were deployed despite assurances from Assad to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that he would stop all military operations.

Bloody Fridays

Assad seems to have paid little heed to the harsh statements issued yesterday by the US and European Union, calling for his resignation.

The deaths mark another bloody Friday in the uprising against Assad, which started five months ago. Activist groups believe that almost 2,000 people have died during the revolution.

A United Nations humanitarian mission is hoping to travel to Syria this weekend. The country’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari confirmed the mission, stating the team would arrive in the capital, Damascus, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the State-controlled news agency SANA is reporting that “normal life” is resuming in Lattakia after “security and stability” was restored by law enforcement forces who “cleared the area of the armed terrorist groups”.

Lattakia was the site of a major military operation last week which aimed to quash any dissent in the area.

It is impossible to independently verify any reports from Syria as foreign journalists have been denied access.

Back on the diplomatic front, Russia has once more backed its long-time ally by stating it does not agree with calls for Assad’s resignation.

Welcoming Russia’s position today UN Ambassador Jaafari said that some other countries on the Security Council were using their influence to carry out their own “illegitimate” agendas against Syria.

Singling out British Prime Minister David Cameron, Jaafari warned that Syria must be careful about the “lies being propagated” on the council.

He claimed Cameron used words, like “gangs”, “criminals” and “mentally retarded” to describe rioters in London. Jaafari added that such “gangs” in London could not be differentiated by those protesting in Syria.

Read: Obama calls on Assad to ‘step aside’ >

-Additional reporting by AP

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Sinead O'Carroll

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