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Syria: Government tries to appease Islamic supremacists by freeing 260 of them from prison; they burn Baath party building and police station

 
<JADR>
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03/27/2011 09:33 AM
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Syria: Government tries to appease Islamic supremacists by freeing 260 of them from prison; they burn Baath party building and police station
[link to www.torontosun.com]


DAMASCUS - Thousands of mourners at a funeral for a Syrian killed in anti-government protests burned a ruling Baath party building and a police station on Saturday as authorities freed 260 prisoners in a bid to placate reformists.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was facing the deepest crisis of his 11 years in power after security forces fired on protesters on Friday in the city of Deraa, adding to a death toll that rights groups have said now numbers in the dozens.

Hundreds gathered in the southern city’s main square on Saturday chanting for freedom. Three young men climbed on the rubble of a statue of late President Hafez al-Assad which protesters had pulled down on Friday in a scene that recalled the toppling of Saddam Hussein’s statue in Iraq in 2003 by U.S. troops.

The men had cardboard signs reading “the people want the downfall of the regime”, a witness said.

In nearby Tafas, mourners in the funeral procession of Kamal Baradan, who was killed on Friday in Deraa, set fire to the Baath party building and the police station, residents said.

A human rights lawyer said that 260 prisoners, mostly Islamists, were freed after completing at least three-quarters of their sentences. Protesters have been demanding the freeing of political prisoners and the lifting of emergency law.

Dozens of people have been killed over the past week around Deraa, medical officials said. There were reports of more than 20 new deaths on Friday.

Such demonstrations would have been unthinkable a couple of months ago in this most tightly controlled of Arab countries.

Last Edited by <JADR> on 03/27/2011 09:34 AM





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