The one revolution currently rocking the Levant region (more fitting than MENA as it include Greece which at last check was also not all that peaceful, as well as Italy, which soon won't be all that peaceful either) that few are talking about is that of Syria, which has been put on the backburner as no holy crusade is currently in place to liberate its people, but, far more importantly, its oil, nor does it even have oil, is that of Syria. Which is unfortunate because all the public outcry crusaders who just look for their chance to express their disapproval of the latest toppling regime (after quietly sitting on the sidelines for ages saying nothing), would have a field day with what is going on in Damascus, but primarily the city of Daraa for the time being. Per Haaretz: "Syrian security forces killed on Saturday two protesters who tried to
torch the ruling Baath Party headquarters in the port city of Latakia,
rights activist Ammar Qarabi told Reuters in the Egyptian capital. Protesters set fire to offices of the ruling
party in southern and western Syria on Saturday, burning tires and
attacking cars and shops in a religiously mixed city on the
Mediterranean coast, according to accounts by government officials,
activists and witnesses. More than a week of protests centered in Daraa exploded into nationwide unrest Friday when tens of thousands of protesters marched in cities, town and villages around the country, posing the greatest threat in decades to the Baath party's iron-fisted rule." Unfortunately for the people of Syria, they should prepare for the same kind of retaliation that Gaddafi rained upon his own discontents, until France, pardon the UN, pardon the US, pardon NATO, pardon not the Arab League, pardon total chaos, decided to step in and order a no fly zone. Alas, rule #1 in international economics: "No oil Zone", means no "No fly zone." Syria, you are on your own.
Some rather graphic clips from Friday's events in Syria:
And a recap of recent events:
In the coastal city of Latakia, dozens of people protested before attacking the Baath offices, said Ammar Qarabi, an exile in Egypt who heads Syria's National Organization for Human Rights.
A Syrian activist in touch with protesters in Latakia said hundreds had been demonstrating there since Friday evening, burning tires and shouting "Freedom!" A few protesters were attacking cars and shops, the activist said.
Troops and soldiers opened fire in at least six places, killing some 15 protesters, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted on social networking sites.
A resident of Latakia who spoke to The Associated Press from home reported hearing gunfire Saturday evening, but could not say where it was coming from. Shaaban said that an "armed group" had occupied the roofs of some buildings in Latakia, and claimed the group was shooting randomly at citizens.
A Syrian official told The Associated Press that two passersby were killed and two others wounded in Latakia by sniper fire from rooftops. He denied that the army had opened fire on protesters.
A hospital official in Latakia also said there were two dead and two wounded. He declined to give any other details.
Footage on a Facebook site run by Syrian activists showed what it said were the dead and wounded in Latakia. Young men carried one man by his limbs through the street, then another. They laid the second man limp in the street.
"It's the military police!" one shouted.
Footage from an opposition Syrian news agency uploaded onto YouTube claimed to show another man killed in Latakia.
Men screamed, "Oh God! Oh God!" as they laid the body of the young man on the floor, his face smeared with blood and a gaping hole close to his jawline.
The authenticity of the footage could not be independently confirmed.
Qurabi said four people had been killed when armed forces fired on protesters Friday in Latakia, which is almost evenly divided between the country's majority Sunni Muslims and Alawites, members of a branch of Shiite Islam who hold most positions of power, including the presidency.
Activists called online for a popular peaceful uprising Saturday in all Syrian provinces, urging people to take part in funerals "and not return home."
By early Saturday afternoon, President Bashar Assad had pulled back police and soldiers from Daraa and released hundreds of political prisoners in an attempt to appease demonstrators furious about the violent government crackdown on dissent.
A resident told The Associated Press by telephone that security forces had withdrawn to the outskirts of Daraa, where protests demanding the release of youths arrested for spraying anti-government graffiti have spiraled into daily confrontations with security forces, who have repeatedly opened fire.
The Daraa resident said more than 1,000 people were holding a silent sit-in at the al-Omari mosque, the epicenter of the protests. Protesters used the mosque as a refuge and ad hoc medical center until they were driven out in a government assault on Wednesday. They retook the mosque during clashes with government forces on Friday, witnesses said.
The clashes erupted after protesters attacked a statue of late President Hafez Assad in Daraa's main square, witnesses said. The Daraa resident said the statue had been knocked down and a giant picture of President Bashar Assad, the late leader's son, had been torn apart.
A video posted on the main Facebook page used by Syrian pro-democracy activists showed a crowd of young men in Deraa climbing onto the base and trying to shake it from its perch, then rushing toward a nearby building, some throwing what appear to be stones. Suddenly, automatic weapons fire breaks out and the video ends.
A resident told The Associated Press that he saw two bodies and many wounded people brought to Daraa's main hospital after the shooting.
A human rights activist said authorities had released 260 political prisoners. Abdul-Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian Human Rights League, said most of those released on Saturday were Islamists and 14 Kurdish detainees were also let free. Most had been imprisoned at Saidnaya, a prison in a Damascus suburb that houses political detainees. He said no further details were immediately available and there was no official confirmation.
Rihawi called the move a "positive step" and urged authorities to release all political detainees.
An activist in Damascus said a funeral had been held in the village of Sanamein for seven people shot when demonstrators tried to march a short distance to Daraa to support the protesters there.