Syrian forces kill teenager in another Aleppo attack, reports say
One day after a raid on a local college campus resulted in four deaths, Syrian forces fired on a large group of protesters in Aleppo Friday.
Beirut — Syrian forces opened fire on thousands of protesters in Aleppo Friday, killing a teenager, after a raid on dormitories at the city's main university killed four students and forced the closure of the state-run school.
An Aleppo-based activist said the protests were the largest the city has seen since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011.
"The people are incensed by what happened at the university," said the activist, Mohammed Saeed. "Everyone wants to express solidarity with those students."
Saeed said security forces were out in full force, firing live ammunition to disperse protesters and arresting people randomly.
"With our blood, we sacrifice for you students!" people shouted.
The raid at Aleppo University was an unusually violent incident for the city, a major economic hub that has remained largely loyal to Assad over the course of the 14-month uprising.
Anti-government protests there have been on the rise, and university students — many from rebellious areas such as the northern Idlib province — have been staging almost daily demonstrations.
"This is what prompted this extremely brutal attack by the government ... this is proof that the regime has started to worry about Aleppo rising up," said Omar Idilbi, a member of the Syrian National Council opposition group.
During Friday's protests, security forces killed a 16-year-old youth in the Salaheddine district of Aleppo and wounded around 30, Saeed said. Scores of others were arrested, he said. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground in Syria, confirmed that a teenager was gunned down.
Amateur videos showed a large number of people shouting "Allahu Akbar," or God is great, as a protester climbed an electricity pole in Salaheddine to hang a flag that the opposition has adopted as its own — the national flag that dates to before the ruling Baath party took over.
Other videos showed protesters shouting: "Death rather than humiliation!"
Thousands protested Friday also in the central provinces of Hama and Homs, in the southern province of Daraa and in suburbs of the capital Damascus.
The Observatory said one person was killed in the Damascus suburb of al-Mleiha as security forces opened fire to disperse protesters.
The attack on a university campus, considered something of a safe space even within Syria's upheaval, sparked outrage among many residents there.
Activists said large protests formed Thursday night in solidarity with Aleppo students who were thrown out of their dorms along with their belongings. Dozens of protesters were arrested during the night, activists said.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated as they streamed out of mosques in several districts of Aleppo. Friday, the Muslim holy day, is the main day of anti-government protests in Syria, when thousands of demonstrators around the county have been taking to the streets, calling for Assad's ouster.
Aleppo University announced it was closing until final exams on May 13 following the bloody clash on Wednesday.
The Syrian National Council called for a nationwide university strike in solidarity with Aleppo University, but no classes were scheduled on Friday, the start of the weekend in Syria.
The clashes further highlighted doubts over a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan nearly a month ago.
A spokesman for Annan said Friday the international envoy believes his peace plan for Syrian remains "on track" — a day after the Obama administration offered a far bleaker view.
"If the regime's intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat," he said, adding that new measures might have to be taken, including a return to the U.N. Security Council. He gave no further details.
It was the clearest statement yet that the Obama administration sees little chance for the cease-fire.
"It is clear and we will not deny that the plan has not been succeeding thus far," Carney said.
Military prosecutor Saqr Saqr said they were charged with buying large quantities of weapons with the aim of carrying out "terrorist acts."
A judicial official said they included 13 Syrians, four Lebanese, two Egyptians, a Libyan and an Indian. Seven are at large, while the rest are in Lebanese custody, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters.