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Syrian Protests

June 18, 2011 by staff 

Syrian ProtestsSyrian Protests, Syrian troops deployed in two cities in the Northeast yesterday’s anti-government protests erupted after noon prayers in half a dozen cities and towns across the country. Thousands of people reportedly took part in rallies in Homs, Syria’s third largest city, and Hama, where the military crushed a Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in 1982. Opposition sources said eight people had died in Homs, and 16 in the country. The troops took control of the strategic cities of al-Numan Maarat Shaykun Khan and both sides of the north-south highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo, and extend to the Turkish border.

The stated aim of the army has been to take control of armed radical fundamentalists. Many residents are said to have fled for fear of abuse.

Some of the 10,000 Syrians displaced from the north, who have taken refuge in tents on the Turkish side of the border were set to visit the Hollywood star and UN envoy Angelina Jolie.

NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, condemned the repression of the Syrian regime, but said the alliance would not intervene.

He argued that there was no regional support and a UN mandate for military action. However, the EU has prepared new sanctions against Syrian companies and banks, as well as visa restrictions and the freezing of assets of senior government officials.

The dissidents were unimpressed with the announcement by Rami Makhlouf billionaire who is giving up the benefits of his business empire and donate them to charity projects. Mr Makhlouf, a cousin of President Bashar al-Assad, has been accused of using family connections to enrich themselves at the expense of the Syrian people.

Mr Makhlouf, already subject to U.S. sanctions and the EU, controls the country’s main mobile phone company, an oil concession, an airline, hotel, construction companies, duty free shops and a bank. Its value is estimated in 2000 million (€ 1.4 billion).

Shortly after the demonstrations began in mid-March, protesters waving signs calling for his prosecution for corruption burned the offices of Syriatel, the mobile provider with a market share of 50 percent.

The state news agency reported that the sale would bring in a public offering of its 40 percent stake in Syriatel and distribute benefits to the families of those killed during the revolt and other humanitarian causes.

But critics recall his comments last month when the New York Times Assad said the family would fight “until the end” and suggested that the stability of the country depended on the regime.

It is the first member of the family to their wings clipped. Rifaat al-Assad, attempted a coup against his brother, Hafez al-Assad, father of current President in 1983, when he was recovering from a heart attack. He was stripped of office and exile. A brief identified Syrian Syria Comment noted that the regime “is shaken badly… The status quo is unsustainable, even if they win… The hardliners have lost and the reformers won.” However, the opposition argues that the price has been too high and insists that the regime must go.

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