Syrian Protests Top 20,000, Situation 'Out of Control'

In the latest Mideast pro-democracy protests, thousands of Syrian citizens took to the streets to attend the funerals of at least 25 protesters who died in clashes with police. Yesterday, security opened fire on hundreds of students protesting the government, one of the most oppressive in the Arab region. Channel 4:

A Syrian journalist currently in London, who does not want to be identified, told Channel 4 News people were talking of "hundreds" of bodies in the streets: 

"The situation is out of control. It's not clear to what extent the government is directing what's going on in Deraa. 

"Insiders talk of a split at the highest levels. The president sent a delegation to the city at the weekend, and protesters handed over a list of demands. 

"There was a sense of optimism, and the governor was fired.  Forty-eight hours later there was a massacre in the middle of the night.

"Protesters holed themselves up in a mosque. Locals set up tents outside to act as human shields. Then just after midnight yesterday, security forces reportedly forced their way in, killing five.

"A curfew was imposed yesterday, and we're hearing that unarmed civilians were being shot on sight.

"No-one really knows how bad it is in Deraa. Electricity, internet and phone connections have been sporadic. People were talking of "hundreds" of bodies in the streets on Wednesday afternoon, but that estimate was quickly reduced. With a siege on the city, we will probably not know the true death toll for many days."

Since Friday, over 30 have been killed. The country's Baathist rulers have been in power for more than 48 years.

 

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at March 24, 2011, 8:14am