Thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets across Syria today after a televised appearance by President Bashar Assad, shouting for him to step down.
Security forces opened fire in the central city of Homs, killing at least one person. Crowds there and in several other cities were angered by Assad’s remarks on TV and taunted him with warnings that his regime would be the next to unravel, as Muammar Qaddafi’s 42-year rule was crumbling under a rebel advance in Libya
Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the government’s crackdown on a five-month-old uprising. The regime has unleashed tanks and snipers in an attempt to stamp out the revolt.
In a now-familiar refrain, Assad on Sunday promised imminent reforms – including parliamentary elections by February – but insisted the unrest was being driven by armed gangs and Islamic militants, not true reform seekers.
He also said he was not worried about security in his country and warned against any Libya-style foreign military intervention. His remarks appeared designed to portray confidence as the regime comes under blistering international condemnation.
Yesterday the United Nations Human Rights Chief blasted the President for human rights. There are different views to the protest and also suspicion as to the UN’s and especially American intervention and involvement with the situation in Syria.