AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIRUT: Syrian regime forces opened fire on protesters in the Douma area near the capital today, activists said, as monitors reported that at least six people were killed in violence across the country.
Scores of protests broke out across Syria to condemn the May 25 Houla massacre.
At one protest in Douma, ‘regime forces opened fire on demonstrators. Everyone had to run away because there was nobody there to protect them’, activist Mohammed al-Dumani said via Skype.
He said several people were wounded.
The demonstrations were called to commemorate the 108 victims of a massacre last week, including 49 children, in the central town of Houla. Activists hailed the children as the ‘flares of victory’ in the 15-month anti-regime uprising.
Large crowds in Aleppo, northern Syria, ‘chanted for the victory of the martyrs of Houla’, also reportedly coming under regime gunfire, another activist who declined to be named told AFP. “People chanted in honour of the martyrs of Houla, and condemned the failure of (UN-Arab League envoy Kofi) Annan’s peace plan,” notably a ceasefire which has been violated each day, Halabi added.
The UN-backed ceasefire that came into force on April 12 has failed to take hold. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, almost 2,300 people have been killed since the start of the truce.
Earlier on Friday, regime troops killed five people during raids in the town of Daraya outside the capital Damascus, the Britain-based monitoring group said.
Regime troops stormed the town — a centre for the armed opposition — with tanks and fired shells at its western districts, the Observatory said.
Local activists said the five killed were civilians, adding that one of them was an activist and ‘regime forces burnt his body completely after they killed him’.
An amateur video posted on YouTube showed the victim’s charred body, with the voiceover: “They burned his body in a message to the world and to all the Syrians.”
The Houla massacre, which Damascus blamed on “armed groups,” stoked an international outcry and the expulsion of top Syrian diplomats from several Western countries.
Prosecution for attacks likely: UN
GENEVA: Syrian forces and allied ‘shabbiha’ militia who stand accused of committing a massacre in Houla may be liable for prosecution for crimes against humanity, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said on Friday. Pillay, in a speech read out on her behalf to a special session of the UN Human Rights Council, said: “These acts may amount to crimes against humanity and other international crimes and may be indicative of a pattern of widespread or systematic attacks against civilians that have been perpetrated with impunity.” Pillay, a former war crimes judge, added: “Those who order, assist or fail to stop attacks on civilians are individually criminally liable for their actions.”