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Syria says citizens of restive cities "relieved" by army presence

Arab World Materials 12 May 2011 18:23 (UTC +04:00)
A day ahead of planned nationwide protests demanding reform and the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the state-run news agency said Thursday that residents of restive cities were feeling safer thanks to a bulked-up army presence.
Syria says citizens of restive cities "relieved" by army presence

A day ahead of planned nationwide protests demanding reform and the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the state-run news agency said Thursday that residents of restive cities were feeling safer thanks to a bulked-up army presence, dpa reported.

Syrian forces have been deployed in many cities across the country in recent weeks in response to growing protests calling for the ouster of the incumbent regime.

But state TV Thursday played up the military's beneficial role, quoting a resident of Daraa who told the broadcaster how she had been saved by the army.

"I was inside the kitchen. I don't know from where the bullet entered. I was hit in my groin and the army and my cousin aided me to the hospital," the person named Safa was quoted as saying.

A military source quoted in SANA said that citizens of the provinces of Homs and Daraa "expressed relief over the army units and security forces' efforts to restore calm and create a state of stability and safety after being terrorized by terrorist armed groups".

However, rights groups said at least nine people were killed in the southern province of Homs, the country's largest, after the military used snipers and tanks to fire into residential areas on Wednesday.

An unknown number of people were also reportedly killed in the south-west province of Daraa, where some of the fiercest government crackdowns have taken place since protests began mid-March.

An online video showed thousands of students holding an anti- government protest late Wednesday at the University of Aleppo. The university is in north-western Syria. The city of Aleppo is Syria's most populated.

Security forces fired at the protesters there, according to international rights group Avaaz. There was no further information available regarding casualties from the incident.

Telephone lines to many parts of Syria have been down for days.

The government source quoted in SANA said that scores of "wanted terrorists" had been arrested on Wednesday and that a makeshift hospital inside a mosque in Homs was found to be treating "armed terrorists."

Rights groups said residents in Homs were forced to treat the wounded on the streets and inside homes because ambulances were unable to reach the injured.

A website called Syrian Martyrs recently posted the names of over 750 people who have died, including soldiers and police, since the unrest began.

The government's news agency reported Thursday that a lieutenant was killed in Homs by gunmen on rooftops, while another five soldiers had been injured. SANA posted pictures of the injured soldiers on its website.

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