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Growing unrest wobbles Syria amid unrelenting military operation in north

06-20-2011 08:29 BJT

by Hummam Sheikh Ali

DAMASCUS, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The protests in Syrian have recently gained momentum on a weekly basis with harsher cries for the overthrow of the government, which is struggling to tamp down the months-long unrest by offering more concessions and promising more reforms, as well as by sending troops to the northern areas where it says "armed gangs" are killing policemen and intimidating residents.

According to Syria's state TV, hundreds of people rallied across the country Friday, calling for freedom and reforms. It also said that armed groups shot dead nine civilians and security officers and wounded 20 others.

Pan-Arab TV channel al-Jazeera said at least 19 people were gunned down by the security forces nationwide during Friday's large-scale protests.

George Gabour, a political analyst, told Xinhua via phone that the reason behind the continuation of protests is the Syrian government's disregard of the basic demands of the neglected class that protest every Friday.

Syria blames the unrest on armed extremist groups backed by foreign conspiracy that aims at toppling the regime and replacing it with an Islamic emirate.

Gabour said the "armed gangs" do exist and are mushrooming throughout Syria, suggesting that the "neglected class" may turn into armed gangs that resist the army and security forces.

"Syria, without doubt, is subject to a foreign conspiracy led by the Syrian opposition abroad and carried out by the neglected class on ground," he said.

Haitham Manaa, a prominent opposition figure, said he had received a phone call from a Syrian businessman abroad offering him to arm the young people in the southern province of Daraa against the army and security forces.

The Syrian leadership has recently unleashed a full-scale military operation in the northern edge of the country along the borders with Turkey, following the alleged killing of 120 security agents and the discovery of two mass graves with some mutilated bodies of army officers.

Army reinforcements were sent to the violence-hit area in the wake of the appeals by residents urging the army to interfere and put an end to the armed gangs, which, according to Syria's official news agency, have pushed the residents to flee to Turkey.

The Syrian army, meanwhile, has stationed troops at the entrances of the northwestern towns of Maarrat al-Numan and Khan Shekhoun, after it took full control of Jisr al-Shughour, a town bordering Turkey. The army said it will carry out a "limited" operation there to arrest the wanted people.

The Turkish authorities said the number of Syrian refugees into Turkey has almost reached 10,000. Another 5,000 residents in the western area of Tal Kalakh also crossed the border to Lebanon earlier this month.

Political analyst Taleb Ibrahimm told Xinhua that the protests have centered in towns bordering Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan to make it easier to arm those groups, create a state of chaos and wobble the reform process in the country.

Hassan Abd Alazeem, an opposition figure, told Xinhua in an interview that the end of the protests depends enormously on the attitude of the Syrian government toward carrying out reforms, suggesting that only true reforms could bring the protests to an end and close this chapter once and for all.

The Syrian government said 500 members of security forces have died since the eruption of protests in mid March, including 120 who were killed last week in north Syria.

According to activists, more than 1,400 civilians have died and some 10,000 have been detained as the government tried to quell the protests.

Britain, France, Germany and Portugal are pushing for a United Nations resolution draft to condemn Syria.

Editor:Xiong Qu |Source: Xinhua

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