BEIRUT

Middle East

Syria violence kills 29 amid 'liberation' demos

This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, taken on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, purports to show Syrians chanting slogans during a demonstration in Daraa, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)

BEIRUT: Activists reported at least 29 people killed across Syria on Friday as protesters took to the streets in several provinces after being urged to call for a "People's liberation war."

The latest fatalities brought the death toll in the past two days to almost 130, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime forces opened fire on protesters in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, it said, adding that demonstrations also erupted in areas that were under bombardment by the army.

In the same province, much of which is rebel-held, eight air defence troops deserted to join the uprising against President Bashar Assad, activists added.

Their defections came on the same day top Syrian general Munaff Tlass, close to Assad and his family, was reported as having defected.

Elsewhere, clashes broke out in Damascus and its province, the Observatory said, adding that demonstrators took to the streets of several areas of the capital.

The bloodshed came as anti-regime activists urged protests calling for a "People's liberation war," according to one group, the Syrian Revolution Coordinators' Union.

In Damascus province, troops rained shells on the central town of Daraya, killing at least one civilian. Amateur video on YouTube showed medical volunteers trying in vain to treat one bloodied person there.

An explosion targeting a military vehicle killed at least five troops at Maaret al-Numan in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Observatory said, adding that two rebels also died in shelling there.

In the village of Nawa in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the nearly 16-month uprising, shelling killed at least five people overnight, the Observatory said, adding that another six unidentified bodies were found there.

"Regime troops shot and shelled the civilian population here, and killed and injured many people," activists in Nawa told AFP, adding that the shelling followed a rebel Free Syrian Army attack on a military building.

Louay Rushdan of grassroots activists' network the Local Coordination Committees told AFP that the shelling in Nawa killed and wounded a large number of people, and that activists "found bodies that were completely burned. Other bodies were buried under the rubble."

Of 95 people killed Thursday, 68 were civilians, 24 were soldiers and three were rebels, activists added.

It is not possible to independently verify death tolls in Syria since the United Nations at the end of 2011 ceased compiling such figures.

But the Observatory estimates that more than 16,500 people have been killed since the uprising erupted in mid-March last year.

 

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