Syrian activists fear retaliation after 120 soldiers ‘are shot dead’

Syrian activists said they feared a bloody escalation in violence last night after the Baathist regime claimed 120 members of the security forces had been gunned down by armed groups in a town near the Turkish border.

A report on Syrian state television claimed the security men had died after a clash in Jisr al-Shughour, a north-western town about 12 miles from Turkey. Since Saturday, the town has been in the grip of a deadly spiral of violence between the military and protesters, but the claims by state television – which have been met with scepticism by activists and Syrian exiles – would mark a grave turn of events.

Television reports said armed groups had torched government buildings and were using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades to battle with civilians and security groups.

Yet the claims were met with widespread disbelief. "To have killed 120 members of the security forces in Syria you would need an army," said Housam Mohammad, a Syrian journalist who lives in the UK.

He was worried the situation would be used by President Bashar al-Assad to move against his enemies in the town.

Radwan Ziadeh, a Syrian human rights activist living in Washington, said: "I don't believe it. We don't have names. We don't have footage."

There have also been reports police officers or soldiers have been shot dead after refusing to fire on demonstrators. "The security forces kill anybody who refuses to follow orders," Mohamed Karkouti, a Syrian exile based in Abu Dhabi, told The Independent.

But an activist speaking to Reuters said this was not the case in Jisr al-Shughour. "The [police and security members] were killed by gunmen. Some people in some areas have taken up arms," he said.

Human rights groups said at least 42 civilians had been killed in Jisr al-Shughour since Saturday. Civilians in the town reported that most of the deaths happened after rooftop snipers started firing on a funeral procession.

The shootings came after security forces killed at least 70 people across Syria on Friday. Rights activists say more than 1,100 people have died and many more have been arrested and tortured since mid-March.

‘14 killed at refugee camp’

Fourteen people were reportedly killed and 43 injured as violence erupted in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria yesterday. The victims were residents of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus, according to a report from the Palestinian government’s Wafa news agency. Thousands had gathered to mourn those killed during protests at the border fence with Israel on Sunday.

The crowd reportedly attacked the headquarters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Commend (PFLP-GC) to express anger at the failure of the group to organise demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War. Militants from the PFLP-GC responded by opening fire on the crowd, the report said. The report cited hospital staff within the camp who said 14 were killed.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in