Bloomberg News

Syria Forces Kill 76 in Five Days of Violence, Activist Says

September 28, 2011

(Updates with Burt comments in fourth paragraph and Security Council action from eighth.)

Sept. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Syrian security forces killed at least 76 people in the past five days as part of a crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government, a human rights activist said.

At least seven people were killed today in the central governorate of Homs, following the death of 15 protesters yesterday there and in Hama, the northern province of Idlib and in the southern area of Daraa, where the uprising against Assad began in March, Mahmoud Merhi, head of the Arab Organization for Human Rights, said by phone today.

State media said “terrorists” killed General Nael al- Dakhil, deputy chief of the chemistry faculty at Al-Baath University in Homs, and Mohammad Ali Akeel, deputy dean of its architecture faculty. Activists said security forces murdered them after they expressed opposition to the crackdown. Homs is a focal point of the uprising against Assad’s government and the hometown of his wife, Asma.

“This is a further escalation of the regime’s repression which in recent months has seen thousands of civilians, including children, caught up in indiscriminate violence,” U.K. minister for Middle East affairs Alistair Burt said in a statement. “If ever there was a stark reminder that the UN must take further action, this is it.”

Wide-Scale Arrests

The protests are part of the wave of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa that unseated governments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Assad’s crackdown has left more than 3,600 civilians dead, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria. About 30,000 people have been detained and 13,000 are still being held, according to Qurabi and Merhi.

Security forces today carried out wide-scale arrests in the Damascus suburb of Harasta and Daraa, while clashes have been reported in the town of Dmeir near the capital, Mehri said.

The U.S. and European Union have imposed sanctions, including bans on oil exports, and called on Assad to cede power.

They dropped efforts to impose United Nations sanctions in order to win votes for a Security Council resolution condemning the repression. A draft resolution circulated yesterday doesn’t include the arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban that was in a version submitted last month. The earlier draft didn’t win the support of council members Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa.

Targeted Measures

The new resolution “expresses the intent in the event Syria doesn’t comply to adopt targeted measures, including sanctions.” It calls on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to report on compliance within 15 days and every 30 days thereafter.

The Security Council would demand that Syria provide “unhindered access” to human rights monitors and, rather than impose an arms embargo, ask all nations to exercise “vigilance” in limiting arms supplies to Syria.

“Our view is that the other draft is a continuation of the openly declared policy of regime change,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters. “Let’s face it, we have heard statements from various capitals describing who is legitimate and who is not, and we believe that this line of thinking and speaking is encouraging violence in Syria.”

‘Extremely Dangerous’

Referring to Security Council authorization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s bombing campaign in Libya, Churkin said Russia was concerned that the new Western draft resolution reflects a “philosophy that we simply believe is extremely dangerous and is not the kind of approach for the situation in Syria.”

Russia also circulated a revised version of its own draft resolution on Syria, toughening the language to condemn the violence while not blaming either side in the conflict. The text urges the anti-government movement to “disassociate itself from extremists” and calls for an “inclusive Syrian-led political process conducted in an environment free from violence.”

The Security Council is scheduled to meet later today on the situation in Syria.

--With assistance from Bill Varner and Flavia Krause-Jackson at the United Nations and Inal Ersan in Dubai. Editors: Terry Atlas, Steven Komarow

To contact the reporter on this story: Massoud A. Derhally in Beirut, Lebanon at mderhally@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net


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