Today was the largest day yet for the Syrian revolution. It was labeled the “Friday of the Children of Freedom” in reference to the brutal death of Hamza Khateeb and dozens of other children. It also comes the day after a meeting of key opposition figures concluded in Turkey, having developed at least the beginnings of an alternative to Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Internet was shut off to most Syria today:
Starting at 3:35 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) today (6:35am local time), Renesys observed that approximately two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet. Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table.
The blue dots on the map (from LCCSy) show all of the places where demonstrations supposedly took place:
The size of the demonstrations; reporting from LATimes:
Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Babylon & Beyond that around 50,000 people had demonstrated in Hama, marking the largest protest there in the uprising and that tens of thousands had participated in protest rallies in Idleb. Syrian activist accounts and amateur video footage said demonstrations took place in the suburbs of Damascus and in rural areas around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, among other places.
This video of a protest in Horan (southwest Syria) still got out:
Haaretz reports on the government forces’ bloody crack down:
Syrian forces killed at least 63 civilians in attacks to crush pro-democracy demonstrations on Friday, the Syrian human rights organization Sawasiah said on Saturday…
Security forces and snipers fired at tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the city of Hama, where 29 years ago President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar’s father, crushed an armed Islamist revolt by killing up to 30,000 people and razing parts of the city to the ground.
Activists said at least 34 people were killed and scores wounded.
“It looked to me as if hundreds of people have been injured but I was in a panic and wanted to find cover. Funerals for the martyrs have alrady started,” he said.
In the southern city of Deraa, where protests first broke out 11 weeks ago, hundreds defied a military curfew and held protests, chanting “No dialogue with killers”, two residents in the city told Reuters. The protest later broke up.
This editorial from the NYT is a good note to end up:
Syrians have shown extraordinary courage, standing up to President Bashar al-Assad’s reign of terror. We wish we could say that about the international community. So long as Mr. Assad escapes strong condemnation and real punishment, he will keep turning his tanks and troops on his people…
Saleh takes a hit
by Amel Ahmed
Today was an especially chaotic day in Sana’a, if that’s even possible to believe at this stage. I guess the biggest news of the day is word of Saleh’s injury at the Presidential palace. The details and extent of his injuries remain unclear although government officials say he only sustained light injuries.
Despite this, many are speculating that Saleh is seriously injured when it was announced earlierthat he would only be releasing a press statement. Adding to the rumor mill was the fact that a couple of hours earlier, government officials had said he would be making a speech. There is now wide speculation that Saleh may have sustained greater injuries than is being reported. However AJA just announced he would be speaking later tonight.
- Saleh sustained light injuries according to government officials when the Presidential Palace was attacked today by unknown assailants. Four guards were killed and several officials received minor wounds. Saleh’s camp blames al-Ahmar, but the al-Ahmars say that Saleh set this up so he would have a reason to kill the Ahmar brothers.
- I observed attacks today in the Hadda region coming from Nahdayn mountains. Reportedly Saleh’s security officials were targeting Hamid al-Ahmar’s home. They were shooting from the mountains into Hadda. The Presidential palace happens to be in the same neighborhood, and it also was attacked by Ahmar fighters. Despite this, there is no confirmation on what exactly injured Saleh.
- There are sounds of shelling coming from Hadda now as well.
- Hasaba was also attacked today by live rounds and heavy mortar shelling. It continues to come under heavy shelling tonight.
- There were scattered skirmishes along the parameter of Change Square between the 1st Armored Division and Saleh’s armed thugs. At one point they blocked off an entrance so no one could get in.
- Right now there are sporadic street fights occurring in different points outside of the Square.
- I observed many people trying to flee Sana’a today with their families and belongings strapped to the tops of their cars. There were buses that were refusing to accept passengers because drivers feared they would be attacked on their way out of Sana’a. Reportedly, there are violent clashes along the path leading to Aden from Sana’a.
- Gas prices were up, as was the price of food and just about everything else.
- The airport closes periodically depending on the severity of clashes. Professor James Spencer’s interesting theory is that the airport is a joint military and civilian airfield. “By not allowing civilian aircraft onto the runway, the YAF can provide far quicker close air support to the Government forces (indeed, the aircraft may be sitting on the runways ready to go.)”
Excerpts from Aljazeera’s report:
The protesters in Manama were marching adjacent to the city’s Pearl Roundabout, which was the epicentre of weeks of protests against the kingdom’s Sunni rulers, with demonstrators in particular demanding more rights for the island nation’s majority Shia population.
Witnesses said that police fired tear gas at a crowd of hundreds of people who had gathered to mourn Zainab Altajer, who died on Thursday. Opposition activists said she died as a result of exposure to tear gas, but the government said her death was due to natural causes.
Also on Friday, hundreds of mourners gathered at a cemetery in Manama to bury Salman Abu Idris, a 63-year old protester who died in hospital earlier in the day of injuries from a demonstration in March, a witness told Al Jazeera.