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Syrian forces crack down on schools

Students held; 4 civilians killed in other clashes

Student protests against President Bashar Assad’s regime began Sunday, the first day of school. Student protests against President Bashar Assad’s regime began Sunday, the first day of school.
Associated Press / September 22, 2011

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BEIRUT - Syrian security forces moved against several schools around the country yesterday and detained students who demonstrated against President Bashar Assad’s regime, while troops shot and killed at least four people in central Syria, activists said.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, said dozens of students were detained in the southern village of Jassem. Also, security forces surrounded several schools in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta, Arbeen, and Zamalka.

Students have been demonstrating against Assad’s regime since Sunday, the first day of the school year.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of London said security forces killed three civilians in the central city of Homs and one in the nearby town of Rastan.

It reported that the bodies of three other people who disappeared last week were also either found or handed to their families by authorities in the northern province of Idlib and the central region of Hama.

President Obama called on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions on Syria because of the deadly crackdown. He told the UN General Assembly yesterday, “There is no excuse for inaction.’’

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said his country is considering sanctions and is coordinating its policy with the United States. Turkey borders Syria and is a key trading partner. Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency quoted Erdogan as saying: “We never wanted things to arrive at this point, but unfortunately, the Syrian administration has forced us to take such a decision.’’

The Syrian uprising began in mid-March, during the wave of protests in the Arab world that toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Assad has responded with a brutal crackdown that the UN estimates has killed some 2,600 people.

An amateur video posted online showed people running away in a street in the town of Qusair near the border with Lebanon as cracks of gunfire could be heard. A man could be heard shouting, “they are shooting at students in the city of Qusair.’’

Another video showed the funeral of a school teacher identified as Jihad Haji, who was said to have been shot by security forces. Young mourners could be heard chanting, “there is no God but God, Assad is the enemy of God’’ as they carried his coffin in the areas of Waer near the central city of Homs.

The videos or the accounts of violence could not be independently verified. Syria has banned most foreign journalists and restricted local media during the revolt

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