As Massive Protests Rock Syria, Security Forces Respond with Violence, Nail Bombs

 On Friday, tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets in demonstrations so large the Damascus suburb of Douma saw its biggest numbers yet. Syrian forces responded to the mass protests by firing nail bombs at the demonstrators, among other acts of violence. Security forces killed at least five civilians by gunfire, and an ambush by government troops claimed the lives of another four, AFP reports:

Protesters called for the ouster and prosecution of President Bashar al-Assad, whose autocratic regime has been blamed for the deaths of more than 5,000 people since pro-reform protests erupted in March.

Activists urged monitors, who started this week a mission to implement an Arab League peace plan, to protect civilians from the regime's wrath.

"We urge you to make a clear distinction between the assassin and the victim," activists of the Syrian Revolution 2011 said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

"Our revolution which was launched nine months ago is peaceful," they said. 

At huge demonstrations in Douma, security forces deployed nail bombs to disperse protesters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP. The large protests were widespread in Syria, and many other sites encountered violence with security forces. According to AFP:

In Douma, security forces also fired "stun grenades and tear gas" at protesters as 60,000-70,000 demonstrators headed to city hall, where Arab League observers visited the previous day.

Further north in Idlib province, which borders Turkey, more than 250,000 protesters took the streets in various locations, the Observatory reported.

In the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the pro-democracy protests, five civilians were shot dead when security forces opened fire on crowds of protesters.

Several people were shot and wounded in the Daraa town of Inkhil where, bracing for protests, authorities deployed security forces and posted snipers on high grounds from early in the morning, it said.

Protests also took place in Homs, which activists have dubbed the "martyr" city as hundreds have died there in a government crackdown on dissent over the past few months.

In the Damascus neighbourhood of Al-Kadam, security forces fired live rounds of ammunition at worshippers who emerged from midday prayers apparently to prevent them from joining the protests, said the Observatory.

Protests in Aleppo, Syria's second city in the north and economic hub, was "brutally" crushed by regime loyalists, it added.

Because foreign reporters are not allowed in Syria, citizen journalism has been the best way to capture and spread the country's revolution, including images of military violence against demonstrators. On Thursday, citizen journalist Basil al-Sayed, instrumental in spreading the revolution, was shot and killed by security forces, but his last words were caught on camera -- his camera. Watch it:

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at December 30, 2011, 4:22am

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