Syria: Security Forces Open Fire Near UN Monitors

Syrian security forces open fire on anti-regime demonstrators surrounding the cars of a UN team of monitors.

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Elad Benari,

Syrian Tanks Near Damascus
Syrian Tanks Near Damascus

Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-regime demonstrators surrounding the cars of a UN team of monitors on Wednesday, according to a report by The Associated Press.

The gunfire sent the observers speeding off and protesters dashing for cover, according to activists and amateur videos.

AP reported that the violent incident took place in Arbeen, a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian capital. At least eight people were wounded in the shooting.

According to AP, the monitoring team did not announce its plans to visit the area, but a local activist said residents guessed they were coming when tanks posted throughout the area withdrew early Wednesday.

People quickly drew up signs as well as a list of 34 residents who have killed since the start of the uprising and information on the scores who have been detained, an Arbeen activist named Ahmed told AP via Skype.

Amateur videos posted online showed hundreds of demonstrators crowding around at least three UN Land Cruisers, waving Syrian flags and chanting against the regime.

A handwritten sign apparently taped by a demonstrator on one of the cars read, "The murderer keeps killing, the observers keep observing and the people keep up the revolution."

In another video, the protesters were shown walking down a boulevard surrounding the cars when a boom rang out, sending demonstrators scattering. Smoke rose in front of the crowd and the cars sped off, sirens blaring. In yet another video, protesters sprinted down side streets while gunfire is heard nearby.

Ahmed told AP that after the observers left, security cars drove through the area firing, injuring about 20 people.

Earlier in the week, Assad sent helicopters to back up tanks in another escalation of violence against protesters, despite a ceasefire brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan that Assad was supposed to observe.

The government was supposed to withdraw its troops from towns and cities and observe the ceasefire which was be followed by a ceasefire by the armed opposition, according to Annan’s plan.

Instead, Assad's government has ignored key provisions, such as giving free access to humanitarian aid groups and journalists.