Israeli report: Syrian forces kill some 30 demonstrators
Syrian security forces on Friday killed some 30 people during violent clashes which started in a soccer game and later spread to demonstrations throughout the Kurdish regions in the country, the Tel Aviv-based Haaretz reported on Saturday. The report was published by Yossi Melman who enjoys close ties with Israel's intelligence sources.
According to the report, the clashes commenced during a soccer match in the city of Qamshali, located near the Turkish border in a province populated mainly by Kurds. The local Jihad team, which has mostly Arab and Kurd players, was playing the Fitouya group from the city of Dir el-Zur, near the Syrian border with Iraq, when Fitouya fans started calling out "long live Saddam Hussein." The Jihad team responded with "long live Barazani" shouts, pertaining to one of the Kurdish leaders in Iraq. The game was part of the Syrian football league.
Clashes ensued between the two sides inside the stadium, which contained some 5,000 people at the time, and three children were trampled to death in the uproar.
Large police forces that were called to the scene were unable to quell the large crowd, and reinforcements that later arrived opened fire, killing some 30 people and inuring dozens.
"Riots prior to a scheduled football match on Friday between two Syrian teams led to a number of people killed and wounded among the fans," SANA reported late Friday. The riot police contained these events, the news agency added.
However, according to Haaretz, following the incident, large demonstrations spread to other towns in Syria's Kurdish regions. During the protests, signs and slogans slamming Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime as well as the ruling Baath Party were shown.
Syrian loyalist forces, accompanied by tanks, were dispatched to the region, and a curfew was imposed in some areas. Efforts were also being made to calm the situation, the report added.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)