Syria cracks down on protesters, 37 over 100 dead

posted at 3:35 pm on March 24, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

As the West continues bombardment of Libya, another Arab govermment has opened fire on its citizens to suppress dissent.  In Deraa, Syria, at least 37 people died as security forces from the Bashar Assad attacked a demonstration today:

The main hospital in the southern Syrian city of Deraa has received the bodies of at least 37 protesters who were killed in a confrontation with security forces, a hospital official said Thursday.

Security forces opened fire on hundreds of youths at the northern entrance to Deraa Wednesday afternoon, according to witnesses, in a dramatic escalation of nearly a week of protests in which at least 44 civilians have been killed since Friday.

Around 20,000 people marched Thursday in the funerals for nine of those killed, chanting freedom slogans and denying official accounts that infiltrators and “armed gangs” are behind the killings and violence in Deraa.

“Traitors do not kill their own people … God, Syria, Freedom. The blood of martyrs is not spilled in waste!” they chanted in Deraa’s southern cemetery.

The protests have taken a promising turn, according to Reuters.  Demonstrators have explicitly criticized Assad’s alliance with Iran.  In fact, in a separate incident nearby, security forces killed two more protesters in a demonstration where people chanted, “Honorable Syrians don’t rely on Iran or Hezbollah,” indicating that Syria’s puppetry on behalf of radical Shi’ite terrorism doesn’t enjoy widespread popularity.

Here we have another Arab dictator in a nation with diplomatic ties to the US opening fire on his own people to keep from losing his grip on power — this one with ties to one of our most dangerous foes in the world, and certainly the most dangerous in that region.  Going to war against Syria would be madness for a number of reasons, but will Barack Obama declare that Assad needs to “transition” himself from power?  Obama had no problem telling that to Hosni Mubarak, who hadn’t opened fire on demonstrations after they erupted in Cairo.

Update: The Jerusalem Post puts the number of those killed at more than 100.


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