Syrian Army Kills 38 In North, Reports Say
By LIAM STACK
Most of the deaths took place in Jisr al-Shoughour, where residents said 25 people had been killed by helicopter gunships bombarding the town and machine gun-mounted armored cars prowling the streets. Ten were reported to have died in the nearby
“It is a big massacre,” said Abu Hussein, a resident of Jisr al-Shoughour with family in Khan Sheikhoun. “The civilians have no electricity or water, and there are no ambulances to hospitalize the wounded.”
Syria has been gripped since mid-March by a popular uprising against four decades of iron-fisted rule by the Assad family, and the government has responded to the revolt with a violent crackdown occasionally tempered by offers of political reform.
But there was little holding back over the weekend. The government unleashed the helicopter gunships, and residents in several cities said security forces appeared to move north to join the attack on its towns. Terrified residents streamed through the fields to escape the fighting, with dozens crossing the Turkish border and a large number reported arriving in the nearby port city of
“They are trying to punish the residents for protesting,” said Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Association for Human Rights. “Dozens have been arrested over the last two days.”
The number of protesters in Idlib swelled so much in recent weeks that “the whole area is rising up,” said Wissam Tarif, a rights activist. Parts of the province had come to the kind of standstill associated with the besieged southern town of
Government tanks were reported to have pulled back slightly from the city of
Bracing for a new onslaught, residents barricaded the streets with large trash-hauling bins on Saturday night, but a tense calm reigned on Sunday night.
Tanks remained “very close” to the city, said Radwan Ziadeh, an exiled human rights activist and visiting scholar at George Washington University, but residents reached by phone said many had appeared to move north. One resident, who gave his name as Abu Mohamed, said he watched 40 tanks move north from the city’s eastern approach along the road to Idlib, past barricades and burning tires laid in the road by protesters.
Tensions remained high in
Residents reported quiet in the central city of
Israeli Soldiers Shoot at Protesters on Syrian Border
By ISABEL KERSHNER
Wave after wave of protesters, mainly Palestinians from refugee camps in Syria, approached the frontier with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Israeli soldiers opened fire on those who crossed a new trench and tried to attack the border fence near the towns of Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights and Quneitra in
By nightfall, the Syrian news agency
Even so, it was the worst bloodshed in the Golan Heights since Israel and
The protest, on the anniversary of the start of the 1967 Middle East war, followed a larger, coordinated assault by demonstrators three weeks ago on four fronts — Syria, Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank — and attempts on two others, Egypt and Jordan, that were thwarted by those governments.
The focus was on
Still, the protesters said they counted the day a success because they drew Israeli fire on unarmed demonstrators, generating outrage at
The young protesters, disillusioned with the stymied peace talks and continued Israeli settlement building, say they believe they have hit on a new tactic that at least achieves something, if at a cost, and they intend to repeat it.
“The plan is to clash with the soldiers now,” said Muhammad Abu al-Nassar, 25, who was protesting at a
Israeli officials, who say they tried every nonlethal method of crowd control at their disposal before resorting to live fire, worry about being cast as the villain but admit they are in a bind.
“What would any country do if people from an enemy country were marching on its borders?” asked Dan Gillerman, a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. “We tried all other possible means to stop them.”
At the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not allow “extremist elements” to penetrate
A military spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, said that Israeli forces warned the protesters not to approach the border, in Arabic with megaphones; used nonlethal riot dispersal means like tear gas, which failed to deter them; and then fired warning shots in the air.
When the demonstrators reached the fence, soldiers were “left with no choice,” she said, “but to open fire at the feet of the protesters.”
Protesters there could not have approached the border without government acquiescence, and analysts said the decision to allow the protest was aimed at deflecting attention from the protests sweeping
“I would note that these protests were carried live on Syrian television” an Israeli official said. “They do not carry the protests against their own regime live. They made a decision to try to exploit this for their own purposes.”
The official spoke anonymously because, he said,
But even revived peace talks with the Palestinians would be unlikely to alter Mr. Assad’s calculations.
“Only the Syrian government can stop this, and we do not have leverage over them,” said Shlomo Brom, a retired general at the Institute for National Security Studies at
The protests marked the anniversary of the 1967 war, which Palestinians call the “naksa,” or setback, when
Last month, President Obama laid out broad principles for negotiations toward a Palestinian state based on the borders before that war, with mutually agreed land swaps. He suggested that talks focus first on borders and security, and deal later with the contentious issues of the status of
The protesters see the failure of talks as justification for a renewed unarmed struggle. But whether border-crashing will become the tactic of choice for a new intifada, or uprising, was unclear.
The protests in the Palestinian territories on Sunday were smaller and more isolated than those last month. In
In the West Bank, scores of Palestinian youths marched toward the Qalandiya checkpoint, the main gateway between Ramallah and
Inspired by the so-called Arab Spring and aided by social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, the protesters hope their approach will catch on.
“What we are seeing now are trial runs,” Ehud Yaari, a leading Arab affairs analyst, said in an interview. “They have reached the conclusion that there is a powerful weapon that had not been used so far.”
Rina Castelnuovo contributed reporting from Majdal Shams, Golan Heights, and Fares Akram from
An earlier version of this article erroneously attributed a quote by Ehud Yaari to an Israeli television station.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs