2011-03-23 Syria: At least 4 more dead in 'armed gang' ambulance attack

ImageAs many as 10 protesters have been killed in Syrian rallies that officially began on March 15. The latest attack by Syrian security forces took place Wednesday just after midnight at the Omari mosque in Demaa.

The Associated Press reports that an ambulance was attacked by an "armed gang" in this incident, which was initially aired on Syria's state-run TV. Fatalities include a paramedic, a driver, a policeman and Dr. Ali Ghassab al-Mahamid, who traveled to the mosque in order to attend to victims of similar recent attacks.

In Damascus, a group of several dozen plain-clothes Syrian policemen broke up a protest at the Omayyed Mosque on March 21. Security forces reportedly pulled out batons the moment chants broke out and detained at least two activists. At least one activist was beaten for resisting. Many women and children fled the scene as at least 200 protesters gathered, “chanting support for President Bashar al-Assad and waving Syrian flags.”

On March 19, security forces "used teargas to disperse thousands of mourners who gathered for the funeral of [Wissam Ayyash and Mahmoud al-Jawabra] who had been killed." A resident from Daraa spoke with Human Rights Watch:

"After the burial of the two men, ... people left the cemetery chanting that after today there will not be any fear. Security members met them at the bridge with teargas canisters and later used bullets to disperse them."

On Friday March 18, hundreds of people were wounded and at least 4 were reported killed as Syrian security forces claiming to be high ranking officers opened fire on protesters at a rally in Daraa.

According to Reuters, security forces fired on and killed Wissam Ayyash, Mahmoud al-Jawabra, and Ayham al-Hariri. A fourth protester, Adnan Akrad, died on Saturday from wounds also sustained by live ammunition. (HRW.org)

Syria's state news agency SANA said violence and "acts of sabotage" had broken out in Daraa, prompting security forces to intervene.

"Infiltrators took advantage of a gathering of citizens near the Omari Mosque in Daraa ... to provoke chaos through acts of violence which resulted in damage to private and public property," SANA said.

"The infiltrators also set cars and shops on fire, which obliged security forces to intervene in order to protect citizens and property," it added. "They were also attacked by the infiltrators before the latter dispersed."

Human Rights Watch is calling for an immediate "cease use of live fire and other excessive force against protesters" and conformity with international standards that "call on law enforcement officials to apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force."

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