Bloody Friday in Hama Syria as History Repeats Itself
Reuters News Agency reported that Syrian security forces shot dead at least 34 demonstrators in the Syrian town of Hama on Friday, as once again protesters were mown down as they left Friday's noon prayers.
The revolt against President Bashar al-Assad is in its 11th week and security forces, including snipers, fired into a crowd of thousands in an attempt to bring it to an end.
"The firing began from rooftops on the demonstrators. I saw scores of people falling in Assi square and the streets and alleyways branching out. Blood was everywhere," a witness who gave his name as Omar told Reuters from Hama.
"It looked to me as if hundreds of people have been injured but I was in a panic and wanted to find cover. Funerals for the martyrs have already started," he said.
HIstory may be repeating itself in Hama, where Bashar's father, Hafez, slaughtered at least 30,000 of his own citizens in 1982, in order to supress a revolt.
Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters he expected the death toll to rise because many people at the demonstration had serious injuries.
One person was reported killed in Idlib, in the Kurdish northeast, and forces also opened fire on demonstrations in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor and in Damascus' Barzeh district where thousands demonstrated on Friday. Residents defied the curfew in Deraa and came out to protest.
According to human rights groupsm security forces have killed more than 1,000 civilians since March. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who originally called Assad a "reformer" has said that his legitimacy "had nearly run out." Although the United States has joined NATO operations in Libya aimed at toppling Qaddafi, who has also killed his own citizens, no similar actions have been announced against Assad. The EU, Australia and the United States have passed sanctions against the regime.
Assad has responded to this continuing revolt against his rule with violence accompanied by promises of reforms, which protestors have dismissed as irrelevant. The media blackout instituted by the regime has made a mockery of those promises and news is dependent on activists who manage to communicate via the web.
A 13-year-old boy, Hamza al-Khatib, who is said to have been tortured to death, has become the symbol of the human rights outrages perpetrated by Assad's forces. His picture is seen at protests.