SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

March 26, 2011

Syrian troops storm protest sit-in near Damascus

DAMASCUS, Syria — Security troops stormed a protest sit-in near the capital Damascus, arresting about 200 people in the midnight raid, activists said Saturday, the latest violence in the unrelenting crackdown on protests that have spread to this Mideast country.

The activists said up to 4,000 people were demonstrating in the town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus when, around midnight Friday, electricity was cut and the protesters came under attack. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity fearing reprisals.

They said troops attacked the protesters with sticks and clubs, injuring several, but those reports could not be independently confirmed. An eyewitness who drove to Douma Saturday said there were no traces of a fight in the area and shops were open.

As calm returned to Syrian cities Saturday, a human rights activist said authorities released 70 political prisoners. The release was an apparent effort to appease the protesters and contain the fallout from a deadly crackdown on demonstrations that have gripped Syria for a week. Groups of detainees have been released earlier in the week as well.

Abdul-Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian Human Rights League, said most of those released on Saturday had been imprisoned at Saidnaya prison in a Damascus suburb where political detainees are usually kept. He said no further details were immediately available and there was no official confirmation.

But authorities also reportedly detained dozens of others during the violence as one of the Middle East's most repressive regimes sought to quell demonstrations that exploded nationwide demanding reform.

The Douma midnight raid capped a day of a relentless government crackdowns on protests which dramatically spread to multiple cities across Syria. The once-unimaginable scenario posed the biggest challenge in decades to Syria's iron-fisted rule.

Security forces opening fire on Friday shot dead more than 15 people in at least six cities and villages, including a suburb of the capital, Damascus, witnesses told The Associated Press. Their accounts could not be independently confirmed.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The World

AP Video
Hispanic Caucus Slams GOP for Border Bill Shifts Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Today in History for August 1st Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene US, UN Announce Deal on Gaza Cease-Fire US Warns Against Traveling to Ebola-hit Areas Raw: Deadly Taiwan Gas Leak Explosion Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Raw: Smoke, Explosions Fill Gaza Skyline Today in History for July 31st Raw: 16 Killed in Gaza Market Strike Raw: Guinea Rap Concert Stampede Kills 33+ Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"