Syrian forces killed nearly 140 people on Sunday including 100 when the army stormed the flashpoint protest city of Hama to crush dissent on the eve of Ramazan, activists said.
Activists said it was one of deadliest days in Syria since demonstrators first took to the streets on March 15 demanding democratic reforms before turning their wrath on the regime and calling for its ouster.
US President Barack Obama said he was “appalled” by Syria’s crackdown and vowed to step up pressure to isolate President Bashar al Assad.
In a statement, Obama saluted demonstrators who have taken to the streets as “courageous” and said Syria “will be a better place when a democratic transition goes forward.”
“I am appalled by the Syrian government’s use of violence and brutality. The reports are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime,” Obama said.
“It is one of the deadliest days” since the protests erupted in mid-March, said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Death tolls provided by the Observatory and other human rights groups showed that at least 136 people were killed across Syria – with most of them falling in Hama.
“One hundred civilians were killed by gunfire from security forces,” said Abdel Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights. Rahman said the crackdown came after more than 500,000 people rallied in the city on Friday following Muslim prayers during which a cleric told the congregation “the regime must go.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2011.