Twelve Killed in Syrian City of Latakia in Fighting With Security Forces
Twelve people, including Syrian security personnel, were killed in clashes in the coastal city of Latakia, the state-run news agency said, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. won’t intervene there as it has in Libya.
Clinton said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” program that what led to intervention in Libya -- international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution -- is “not going to happen” with Syria.
“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said yesterday, referring to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on civilians, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”
Another 200 people were injured, the state Syrian Arab News Agency reported. Syrian forces have fought protesters in several cities after President Bashar Al-Assad’s promises of more freedoms and pay increases failed to prevent unrest from spreading. Demonstrations that started earlier this month may have led to the deaths of 55 people, London-based Amnesty International said in a statement on its website.
Syria is the latest country in the region to be hit by the wave of uprisings that ousted longtime rulers in Egypt and Tunisia, and sparked armed conflict in Libya. Assad’s regime is an ally of Iran and a power broker in neighboring Lebanon, where it supports the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement.
“We’re very concerned about Syria,” U.K. Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC’s “Andrew Marr Show” from Brussels, where he was attending a summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “The position on the ground seems to be deteriorating. There needs to be international pressure. You cannot simply shoot people who have a different point of view.”
Syria has decided to end the state of emergency that was imposed in 1963 at a date that has yet to be determined, Agence France-Presse reported, citing President Assad’s adviser Buthaina Shaaban.
Saleh has said that no further concessions would be made, according to the state news agency SANA yesterday. Assad has received telephone calls supporting him from Kuwait’s prince, Bahrain’s king, Qatar’s prince and the president of Iraq, according to SANA.
Shaaban on March 24 said protesters’ demands were “legitimate” and would be met “but in a calm way.”
Central Bank Governor Adib Mayaleh said foreign reserves at the bank are enough to keep the pound’s exchange rate stable and meet local demand, SANA said.
Syrian army vehicles entered Latakia, Al Arabiya reported March 26, citing unidentified witnesses. Khalid Kamal, an imam in the port city, said in a phone interview with Al Jazeera that “military police and unknown snipers opened fire randomly on protesters.”
Video footage on the Internet broadcast by pan-Arab news networks Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya March 26 showed hundreds of protesters in cities including Homs and Daraa. SANA said an armed group killed one man in Homs while another group in Sanamein attacked security forces, who killed several assailants.
Shaaban said the government plans move to combat corruption, a new media law guaranteeing more freedom, improving living standards for residents of border areas, and changes to criminal law to ban random arrests and speed the processing of cases.
Assad has already ordered pay increases of between 20 percent and 30 percent for state employees and an income-tax cut, state television reported. He also ordered a 25 percent increase in the pensions of former government employees.
Assad’s father, the late President Hafez Assad, ruled the Arab country for 29 years. In 1982, he crushed a rebellion led by Islamist militants in the city of Hama, killing as many as 10,000 people, according to estimates cited by Human Rights Watch.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Riad Hamade at email@example.com.