Syrians in the street laud Libyan rebels
Syrian protesters praised Libyan rebel advances in Tripoli as the Syrian regime's crackdown continued unabated, despite Western sanctions that are beginning to bite.
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Syrian protesters, buoyed by the success of the anti-Qaddafi movement in Libya, marched in the streets of several towns and cities Thursday night. Eight were killed, seven of them in the historically rebellious city of Hama, when President Bashar al-Assad's security forces opened fire on the demonstrators.
While the Syrian regime says it has been forced to take action against gunmen and "terrorists," it does not face an armed insurrection on the scale of Libya's and Syrian protesters have vowed to remain peaceful despite Assad's lethal crackdown. More than 2,000 Syrians have died in the conflict, including at least 400 security forces.
Masked gunmen broke the hand of a prominent Syrian political cartoonist, known throughout the Arab world for his work skewering Arab leaders, in Damascus yesterday, The New York Times reports. Ali Farzat had published a cartoon showing Assad getting a ride out of town with Muammar Qaddafi.
Western efforts to sway Assad have been limited to economic sanctions and diplomatic actions, such as condemning Assad and calling for him to step down from power. According to Reuters, European governments will announce an embargo on Syrian oil imports next week, which will deal a strong economic blow to the regime. About 90 percent of Syrian crude oil is exported to the European Union, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).