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25 March 2011 Last updated at 10:03 ET

BBC

Syria unrest: Protests in Deraa, Damascus and Hama

Thousands of protesters in the Syrian city of Deraa are marching to demand greater freedom.

 

The marchers had attended funerals for some of the 25 protesters shot dead by security forces on Wednesday.

 

Demonstrations were also reported in the capital, Damascus, where there were some arrests, and the towns of Hama and Tel. Opposition activists had called for nationwide protests after Friday prayers, after a week of unrest. The city of Deraa, south of Damascus, has become the centre of a serious challenge to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

 

In Damascus, hundreds marched on King Faisal Street chanting: "Peaceful, Peaceful, God, Syria, Freedom". This protest was broken up by security forces and many were arrested, reports say.

 

Another protest reported to the BBC by an eyewitness took place around al-Rifai near Qasar Sousah Square.On Thursday, the Syrian government said it would consider political reforms, including the possible ending of emergency laws introduced in 1963.

 

The government also said it would bring to trial those suspected of killing several protesters in Deraa.

Mr Assad later ordered the release of everyone arrested during the "recent events", state media said.

 

Presidential spokeswoman Bouthaina Shaaban blamed outside agitators for whipping up trouble, and denied that the government had ordered security forces to open fire on protesters.

But she said this "did not mean mistakes had not been made".

 

 

................................

AJE

Protests being held across Syria

Protesters calling for freedom gathered in Damascus and other cities for "day of dignity".

Last Modified: 25 Mar 2011 12:14

 

Protesters calling for freedom gathered in Damascus and other areas around Syria as security forces ordered journalists to leave a southern city where a brutal weeklong siege on demonstrations killed dozens of people.

 

At least 200 people marched in the centre of Damascus after Friday prayers in support of the people of Daraa, scene of protests against Baath Party rule, a Reuters news agency witness said.

 

"We sacrifice our blood, our soul, for you Daraa," they chanted as they were met by President Bashar al-Assad loyalists chanting in support of the Syrian leader. Secret police broke the Damascus protest and arrested dozens, Reuters said.

 

A human rights activists, quoting witnesses, said thousands of people were gathering in the town of Douma outside the capital, pledging support for the people of Daraa. The activists asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.

 

In the capital itself, outside the famous Ummayad Mosque, scores of people were gathering. Hundreds of villagers also marched to Daraa in support of the people there, chanting "Freedom is ringing", a witness said.

 

They set off from the village of Dael near Daraa.

"The crackdown shows there is real confusion in the Syrian government on how to deal with [widespread protests]" Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies

 

After the Friday prayers in the village, men on motorcycles and cars honked their horns while a few hundred men marched, some of them carrying Syrian flags and chanting: "Dael and Daraa will not be humilitated!". Plainclothes security agents watched without interfering.

 

Daraa, the main city of southern Syria, has become a flashpoint for protests.

Officials have been on the defensive after protesters in the southern city were shot dead by police.

 

Security forces appeared to be trying to reduce tension in Daraa by dismantling checkpoints and ensuring there was no visible army presence on the streets for the first time since last Friday, when the protests began. But journalists who tried to enter Daraa's old city -- where most of the violence took place -- were escorted out of town by two security vehicles.

 

"As you can see, everything is back to normal and it is over," an army major, standing in front of the ruling Baath party head office told journalists before they were escorted out of the city.

 

Activists had called for "Day of Dignity" rallies at mosques across Syria despite a reform pledge by the government.

Syria announced that it would "study" ending emergency rule - in place since 1963 - and look into legalising political parties, a presidential adviser has said, after a week of deadly protests in the country's south.

 

"I am happy to announce to you the decisions made by the Arab Baath party under the auspices of President Bashar al-Assad ... which include ... studying the possibility of lifting the emergency law and licensing political parties," Buthaina Shaaban, the Syrian president's media adviser, said on Thursday.

 

The current emergency law allows people to be arrested without warrants and imprisoned without trial.

 

'Harsh crackdown'

 

Soon after the promises of reforms were made, the prisoners detained in Daraa during the protests were released. There were also reports of orders being issued by the president for the army to pull out of Daraa. Joshua Landis, director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma, said the Syrian government appeared to be confused over how to deal with the protests.

 

"This is widespread. This is Syrians who are in pain, who are in poverty, who have been treated badly and the government understands that," he said.

 

"Shaaban made some important statements saying no issue is taboo and the government feels your pain. At the same time, they [the government] crackdown harshly, and this shows there is real confusion in the government on how to deal with this."

 

'Major step'

 

Rula Amin, Al Jazeera's correspondent in the capital, Damascus, said many of the pledged measures address demands Syrians are talking about. They included a raise in salaries for all workers in the public sector and health insurance for them.

 

"Saying there will be a study to lift emergency law is a major step, as is the promise of a new law for the media to increase transparency. But will this be enough? I think for some this is a good sign, others will want more measures to be undertaken immediately."

 

About 20,000 Syrians marched in Daraa on Thursday, calling for liberty. Defying a security crackdown, they took to the streets during funerals for nine protesters killed a day earlier by security forces.

 

The nine were among at least 25 people shot dead on Wednesday, residents said.

Shaaban said the Syrian government had no objection

to peaceful protests [Reuters]

 

Khaled al-Abboud, the member of parliament representing Daraa, reiterated the government's position that security forces never intentionally clashed with demonstrators.

 

"Security forces never used live ammunitation, and were never in direct clashes with demonstrators," he told Al Jazeera.

"Shortly after these demonstrators took to the streets, a group of armed personnel appeared to be joining them. Therefore security forces never retaliated - but in the end they handled those armed thugs. Yes, security forces used force, but against those thugs - not against peaceful demonstrators. Therefore, if people among peaceful demonstrators were hurt or killed in these clashes, we demand an investigation, in order to come to a conclusion."

 

A witness told Al Jazeera that more than 100 people were killed. He said many people have gone missing and bodies have been dragged away from the streets.

 

Shaaban told reporters that ten people were killed on Wednesday, in what she called an attempt to target Syria because it supports resistance against Israel.

 

"What is being targeted is Syria's position, Syria's security and ability to be a pillar of resistance against Zionism and US schemes,'' she said. "The demands of the people are being studied night and day and Syria will witness important decisions that meet the ambitions of our people"

 

Shaaban said the Syrian government had no objection to peaceful protests, and claimed that demonstrators in Daraa had attacked security forces. Shaaban said the president had chaired a meeting of the ruling Baath party at which decisions taken included guaranteeing security for the people, and a higher committee to discuss with Daraa residents what had happened and sanction those responsible.

 

"If there is a legitimate demand by the people then the authorities will take it seriously, but if somebody wants to just cause trouble then it is a different story," she warned.

 

The government crackdown has led to harsh criticism from the US, Britain, France and the United Nations.

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The "Tunisia virus" is getting more serious there than I thought it would.

 

But then again I've been saying that since Egypt.....

 

 

 

This shit is really pretty macabrely amazing. It will either be a big bloody failure like 1848 or a world altering event like that of 1989. Either way, shit doesn't get any bigger.

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How much veracity do you put behind the claim the Iran and Hezbollah are suppressing the protesters? Not that it's beyond belief but it seems convenient for the locals to point at outside forces instead of those guys right there with the guns...

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I don't like any of this at all.

 

Not sure what it is that you don't like but am interested to find out and as to why.

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I don't like all of these uprising's happening at the same time in basically the same region.

 

I don't like the instability, and I don't like certain possible outcomes because of this.

 

I don't like the US role in any of this, and the possible scenario's that cane arise because of it.

 

Very vague yes, but I'm sure you get the idea.

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i love that the people decided it's time, and in my opinion, outside influence didn't cause this (though of course they are striving to control it and influence it)

 

 

the middle east needs to get control of itself.

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i agree with lots, it leaves me with an ominous foreboding feeling. as much as i want to see revolution spark in the world, and as much as i feel that these uprising are in part legitimate and real, i feel they are being stimulated, encouraged, and will eventually be co-opted by opportunists who will use the real grievances of the people to their advantage. it also seems to me like instability in the middle east is being stimulated so that a new restructuring or reshaping can occur on someone elses terms. look @ egypt and what has resulted there from their "revolution". look @ what is occurring here in the U.S in terms of foreign policy change due to these uprisings. I'm left wondering what's next.

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The US is playing catch up on this. Europe originally backed Ben Ali.

 

The shit in Bahrain and Yemen to an extent is Iran's hand. Not sure if the implication is being made but there is no great master plan here by people behind the scenes (other than Iran), most countries have been caught completely unaware here.

 

I said I'd never read Tipping Point....., think I may have to renege on that call now.

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i love that the people decided it's time, and in my opinion, outside influence didn't cause this (though of course they are striving to control it and influence it)

 

 

the middle east needs to get control of itself.

 

I agree on principle.

 

However, a lot of this stuff has gone on because of outside influence. I don't think the timing of all of this is not significant. Honestly, look at Crossfire, how many nation's are just recently in this kind of situation? (not trying to say that there is some illuminati conspiracy either)

 

This may be a naive statement, but this is the most that I have been aware of that have basically been going on at the same time. And in the same region. Because of how the middle east typically views America and the west in general, and because of our direct involvement in a lot of what is going on, I am concerned about how this will play out, especially the role the U.S. will take and potentially further alienating the Muslim world.

 

I'm all for the improvement of civil rights, and the progression of society in general. Not to mention a peoples right to stand up to their government. Those issue's have nothing to do with why I don't like what's going on. If anything that's the silver lining.

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i agree, it is unprecedented, maybe that's why i love it.

things that are unpredictable, and destroy the status quo are right up my alley

 

i'm also thrilled that we don't have what i'd perceive as an overly interventionist govt

i can imagine, that if someone like mccain was in power right now, we'd have become mired in both egypt and libya, and maybe even considering invading some of the other hotspots.

 

instead we are hangin back (makin sure the protesters aren't slaughtered, in agreement and accordance with at least some of our powerful/influential allies) but in large part, letting the people/govt determine the outcome of all this shit on their own

 

we need to get off the middle east. both sucking it dry (of resource) and trying to control it with our own 'western-friendly' leaders.

the middle east was once a place of great ideas, fine minds, and innovation. it needs to get on its own feet and get out of the dark ages

 

whether or not that will happen, the people get their way, or not, the governments are based or sharia/religion, or not, remains to be seen.. but it's s damn interesting time to be alive (and honestly, i don't give a fuck if this impacts us negatively.. we have meddled over there for long enough, and that shit has been coming home to roost for awhile now)

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Joe Leiberman is now saying that the US should do the same in Syria that is happening in Libya.

 

 

Some one slap him for me, please.

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so glad people like this aren't in charge right now. things would be getting fuckin dangerous.

 

 

and sure, *SLAP*

i think i got him.

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I second the slap, and do agree that although Obama started to bomb Libya, he could be a lot more hawkish.

 

That wouldn't be the smart move though, our military is without a doubt stretched pretty thin at the moment.

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oh yeah. i'm glad he didn't sit back and let the frenchies do the dirty work

also glad we aren't doing yet another fucking unjustified ground war.

 

 

 

now back to the events in Syria:

[the president, still in power, has decided to appoint a new government]

 

http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/03/29/syria.unrest/index.html?hpt=T2

 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/201132975114399138.html

 

Meanwhile, protests have grown increasingly violent across the country, with scores being killed in the recent unrest.

 

On Monday, security forces fired tear gas and live ammunition into the air to disperse hundreds of protesters in Daraa, who were demanding an end to the emergency laws.

 

At least 61 people were killed in 10 days of anti-government protests in southern Daraa

 

They also called for the release of thousands of political prisoners and for Assad to allow freedom of speech and assembly and curb the free reign the security apparatus enjoys in the country of 22 million.

 

On Sunday, security forces were deployed to the northern city of Latakia after violent protests left at least 12 people dead.

 

And in Sanamin on Friday, at least 10 people were killed at a protest.

 

Such demonstrations would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago in Syria, but it now faces the wave of Arab revolutionary sentiment which has toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

 

Assad, who became president after the death of his father in 2000, has been criticised by the West and even close ally Turkey, Syria's northern neighbour, for using violence against peaceful protesters.

 

The president has yet to respond to the demonstrations, but Farouq al-Shara, his vice-president, said the president would give an important speech shortly.

 

 

.......................

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i love that the people decided it's time, and in my opinion, outside influence didn't cause this (though of course they are striving to control it and influence it)

 

 

the middle east needs to get control of itself.

 

 

kinda did, the only leader that wasnt put in power by either the UK or USA was the al saud family. but they are in our pocket because of the AMARCO which is the biggest oil and run like the military.... they just increased all the salaries of the locals in saudi so they would stop protesting....

 

i havent met a syrian yet who doesnt LOVE their leader, the syrians as of now are telling me that its out side people causeing the problem.... who? out here shit always lands on the philistienies.

 

and on the control and influence, there making even the leaders of these countries get ID cards with there fingerprints and retinal scans encoded on them.... in my opinion shits already under control.....

 

and for the comment a couple above this, something like" i dont like this" dont ever be affraid from an arabic person unless the family had at least two generiation live in a first world country and having never gone back to there home country, which is needed to lose the arab mind set .... theres at least a fifty year gap of knowledge and their way of life WOW.... i live in the MIDDLE HELL and struggle everyday to understand their logic.

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Of course they will blame it on outsiders.

 

They just published two days ago a massive detailed spread of how Bandar and Feltnam planned all this in 2008.

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kinda did, the only leader that wasnt put in power by either the UK or USA was the al saud family.

 

this is old news. and plenty of the leaders we put in place have been ousted.

iran would be one example. egypt would be another. and the US/UK didn't get hamas elected.

syria was created and governed by the french and then their military took over.

things are more complicated than you suggest.

not sure where you're going with some of those other comments. the grammar is not great, and i don't usually take much stock in an opinion that's not articulately expressed.

having visited the middle east, i'd hardly call it middle hell. but i have perspective on things.

 

.....................

 

 

anyway

 

the blame game

 

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/03/20113308737507793.html

 

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry, reporting from Damascus said the address is "without a doubt the most important speech of [Assad's] career".

"People want to see an end to corruption. But on the street, people are also saying 'We want to see reforms, but we want to see Bashar al-Assad stay in power'," our correspondent said.

Assad was expected to use the address to discuss a string of reforms announced last week, amid a wave of dissent and protests demanding more freedoms. But he failed to elaborate on any such reforms.

 

(hmm, wonder why...)

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I'm reading that he is actually ready for reforms but he is being restrained from doing so by some of his more influential peers.

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yeah sorry for the spelling and what not. english is not my thing.

 

either way, the middle eastern people are cool for the most part visiting and living are on extreme ends of eachother. ive visited the middle east many times before i ended up moving here for work, and up until i had to do it for more than a couple weeks it was great.

 

however, now its not so fun.

 

and if ive just repeated some shit that you already know, sorry. i havent watched/read more than maybe a couple hours of news in the two years of being out here.

 

i can say that the iranians are probably behind most of it ,theyve frozen everyone with iranian origins for the time being because of their involvement in yemen, kuwait, and baharain. oman had something for a couple weeks but they forced that out. saudi raised all the wages of the locals there when they started to protest.

 

im just waiting for it to start here so that i can have a vacation.

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13134322

 

Witness to Syria protests: "The shooting is hammering down on us like rain"

 

Syria's government has lifted the country's decades-old state of emergency as protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad continue.

The state security court, which handled the trials of political prisoners, has been abolished while a new law allowing peaceful protests has been approved.

The repeal of the emergency law was a key demand of protesters.

Earlier, unverified footage from the western city of Homs appeared to show security forces opening fire.

 

On Saturday, Mr Assad promised an imminent end to the state of emergency, which has been in place for 48 years. The authorities have also been freeing political prisoners - another key demand of the protesters. But Syria's unprecedented wave of unrest shows no sign of abating.

The government has said an "armed insurrection" by Salafist groups is taking place in Homs and further north in Baniyas.

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All of this revolves around Palestine. If the jews didnt steal Palestine and subsequently create Israel, the US wouldnt have needed to buy leaders like Mubarak. If the US stopped giving Israel money and weapons to kill Palestinians, the Syrians wouldnt be so fucking mad, cause Syrians are part of the same general area as Palestine, called the Holy Land.Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine are very similar in people and history and were considered one people before the UN decided to draw borders and put fake leaders and help the jews steal Palestine.

 

It will all be over soon. Although US supports ISrael because of the financial and political power the jews have in america, soon the US wont tolerate the problems. Especially if theres a massive and long overdue war directed at israel. Israel has been oppressing a people who are considred very near and dear to the hearts of many. The holy land people really, for all three monotheistic religions.

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