Syrians brave government crackdown to mark Hama massacre
Syrian forces opened fire on Friday on protesters in the city of Hama marking the anniversary of a 1982 massacre ordered by President Bashar al-Assad's father, killing at least one person, activists said, dpa reported.
Protesters were commemorating the killing of more than 10,000 people in Hama 30 years ago when Hafez al-Assad sent the army to crush an uprising against his rule.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three people were wounded when security forces opened fire.
Protests to mark the massacre were also staged in the port city of Latakia, despite the heavy presence of security forces, who shot in the air to disperse the crowds, the Observatory said.
A video posted on YouTube showed a few thousand people in the main square of the Ma'arat al-Nuaman village near the rebel stronghold of Idlib in the north. Protesters waved placards reading: "We will not forget you, Hama."
More than 26 people were killed on Friday, mainly in areas near Damascus where the army has been battling defectors and rebels, activists said.
In another development, US-based rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused the Syrian government in a new report of targeting children.
"Children have not been spared the horror of Syria's crackdown," said Lois Whitman, children's rights director at HRW. "Syrian security forces have killed, arrested and tortured children in their homes, their schools, or on the streets. In many cases, security forces have targeted children just as they have targeted adults."
The rights watchdog has documented at least 12 cases of children detained under inhumane conditions and tortured, as well as children shot while in their homes or on the street.
The United Nations Security Council on Friday debated a revised Western-Arab draft resolution to end the bloodshed.
The Doha-based broadcaster Al-Jazeera said the revised text did not call on al-Assad to step down, a concession by Arab and Western countries to try to prevent a Russian veto of the resolution.
Russia and China, Syria's main allies, in October vetoed a Western-sponsored resolution threatening sanctions against al-Assad if he failed to stop the violence.
The conflict in Syria, which started in March with largely peaceful mass protests, has turned increasingly violent in recent months. The Syrian army has been launching operations in and around Damascus to retake areas from rebels and army defectors.