Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Syrian Crackdown Continues and the Body Count Rises

Despite the ongoing brutal crackdown by Bashar al Assad's security goons, led by Assad's brother, against protesters that have killed more than 1,300 and led to detentions of more than 10,000, the UN Security Council has failed to act. France has tried to get the Council to vote on a resolution condemning Bashar al Assad. Britain, Germany, and Portugal are backing the French proposal, but with Russia blocking anything more than a harshly worded statement, the idea of a resolution is a long shot.

All the while, Assad's security forces, led by his brother, are engaging in one of the more brutal crackdowns since protests erupted throughout the Middle East and North Africa earlier this year.

Syrians are fleeing to Turkey to get out of the way of Assad's goons, particularly from the area around Jisr al-Shugur:
Hundreds of Syrians are crossing the northern border into Turkey in an attempt to escape growing violence in their own country.

Many say they are fleeing the town of Jisr al-Shughour ahead of an expected military assault after dozens of soldiers were reportedly killed there.

Residents who stayed in the town have set up road-blocks in an attempt to stop security forces from entering.

Turkey said it would not close its doors to those seeking refuge.

Speaking at a news conference in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was monitoring the situation, and called on Damascus to act with tolerance.
Turkish authorities are also trying to downplay the brutality next door, limiting journalists' access to the refugees:
Local residents on the Turkish side of the frontier say the flow of people began a month ago when some whole families moved to Turkey. The men then returned to Syria and local residents say many of those men have been involved in the fighting.

There are also makeshift camps on the Syrian side of the border, because Syrian villagers fearing their homes will come under army attack have set up tents in their fields.

The Turkish authorities seem keen to downplay the scale of the population movement. Refugees who are being provided for in official camps are not allowed to speak to journalists. Some information is coming from Syria because the Syrians are using Turkish SIM cards in their cell phones. The Syrian networks have been closed down.
Meanwhile, according to Palestinian media outlets, the murder of at least 14 people in the Yarmouk refugee camp was the result of pro-Syrian fighters aligned with the PFLP opening fire on the mourners who were burying those killed in the Golan border skirmish with Israel.
Also, according to Reuters, the shootings took place on Monday after mourners accused the organization of sacrificing Palestinian lives by encouraging protesters to demonstrate at the Golan Heights.

Witnesses explained that following the burial of seven people who were killed in the border protest, by Israeli forces, mourners started to march towards the organisation's headquarters. While the protesters started to throw stones at the building, security guards allegedly came out and starting shooting at crowd.

On Tuesday, commentating on the incident, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank condemned what it called the "crime" by what it said were "armed groups" of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and confirmed that the Popular Front's fighters had fired live ammunition into crowds of young demonstrators at the camp.

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