Human rights groups point finger at Syria

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Human rights groups point finger at Syria

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Syria’s main human rights organisation says the number of people killed amid recent protests has reached 200.

The Damascus Declaration opposition group makes the claim in a letter to the Arab League, calling for sanctions on the Syrian hierarchy.

The group is named after a document signed in 2005 by prominent civic, Islamist and liberal leaders calling for democracy.

Reports on Tuesday spoke of renewed shooting by security forces near the north-western city of Banias. The town has been sealed off following pro-democracy protests and what residents described as killings by Assad loyalists.

Since the first protests erupted at Deraa, the authorities have continued to clamp down despite promising reforms such as an end to a long-standing emergency law.

The US-based Human Rights Watch has accused security forces of preventing medical teams from reaching wounded protesters in at least two towns during demonstrations last Friday – one of the bloodiest days yet.

Protesters want freedom of expression and an end to the Assad family’s 40 year grip on power.

The authorities blame “armed groups” and “infiltrators” for the violence, saying soldiers and police have also been killed.