Friday, June 14, 2024
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Syrian forces kill 19, govt offers amnesty

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AMMAN: Syrian security forces killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens as they cracked down on protests after Friday prayers, activists said, casting doubt on whether an Arab League plan can end months of bloodshed.

The government offered an amnesty to anyone with weapons if they reported to police within a week, ”as long as they did not commit any crimes of killing,” state television reported.

The gesture did not appear to be part of the Arab League plan, accepted by Syria on Wednesday, under which the army would leave turbulent cities, political prisoners would walk free and a dialogue with the opposition would begin within two weeks.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland reacted dismissively when asked if she thought Syrians should participate in the amnesty, saying: ”I wouldn’t advise anybody to turn themselves into regime authorities at the moment.”

She also accused the Syrian government of failing to carry through on the Arab League plan and said the United States had no confidence that it would. ”We have a long, deep history of broken promises by the Assad regime,” she told reporters.

Violence has, if anything, intensified since the Arab League agreement was announced, amid reports of sectarian killings.

Troops fired on protests that erupted after Friday prayers in many towns, killing at least seven people in Kanaker, south of Damascus, nine in the city of Homs, where tanks were again in action, and one in Saqba, near the capital, activists said.

Another two protesters were killed in the city of Hama, 240 km (155 miles) north of Damascus, when security forces fired at several thousand protesters who tried to march to the main Orontes square, scene of big demonstrations before tanks stormed the city three months ago, they said.

Citing activists in Kanaker, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a 20-year-old soldier mutinied while his unit was firing on protesters in the town and killed five members of the security forces, including a colonel, before he was shot dead. (UNI)

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