Syrian protesters arrested in Hama, activists say

Posted Sept. 01, 2011, at 8:32 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 02, 2011, at 11:04 a.m.

CAIRO — Syrian troops Thursday rounded up dozens of anti-government protesters in the restive central city of Hama, whose attorney general switched sides and joined the opposition.

Adnan Bakkour, the attorney general, said in a video posted on opposition websites that he resigned because security forces “killed 72 jailed protesters and activists at Hama’s central jail on the eve of the military assault on the city on July 31.”

He said at least “another 420 people were killed in the operation and were buried in mass graves in public parks.”

He said in his video message: “I, Judge Adnan Mohammad al-Bakkour, declare that I have resigned in protest of the savage regime’s practices against peaceful demonstrators.”

Meanwhile, police supported by the al-Shabeeha militia raided houses in Hama’s neighborhood of al-Sabunia and made mass arrests, activists said, adding that they fired indiscriminately during the clampdown.

In the dissident southern city of Daraa, footage posted on the Internet showed what activists described as a mass protest in the district of Basr al-Harir.

“The people want the execution of the president [Bashar Assad],” the demonstrators chanted.

Other footage showed armored vehicles storming the neighborhood of al-Khalidiya in the central city of Homs, where activists said one civilian was killed and an unspecified number of people injured.

“There is a massive deployment of the army forces and al-Shabeeha in several parts of Homs,” an activist from Homs, identifying himself as Mohammad, told broadcaster Al-Jazeera Thursday.

Thousands took to the streets in the northwestern province of Aleppo, according to the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

Syrian activists based in Beirut said that at least 20 people were arrested in a suburban area of the capital Damascus.

“The security forces have been making arrests since this morning [Thursday] in the area of Rif Damascus upon tip-offs from pro-government agents,” said a Syrian activist living in Beirut, who asked not to be named.

“But all our activists managed to change their locations before they were caught,” he said.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International reported that 88 protesters were killed in custody in Syria.

The United Nations says more than 2,000 civilians have been killed since the protests began in mid-March.

Assad has repeatedly blamed the unrest country on “armed terrorist groups.”

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