Syrians bury their dead in new bloody rallies


At least 11 mourners were shot dead on Saturday as Syrians swarmed the streets to bury scores of demonstrators killed in massive protests and two MPs resigned in frustration at the bloodshed.
Activists said the death toll from Friday’s nationwide protests could top 100, pending confirmation of a list of names, and expected fresh protests to form after the funerals. Two independent MPs from the protest hub city of Daraa, Nasser al-Hariri and Khalil al-Rifai, on Saturday told Al-Jazeera television they were quitting parliament in frustration at not being able to protect their constituents. Friday’s deaths signalled no let-up from President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces used live ammunition and tear gas against demonstrators nationwide, witnesses and activists told AFP. The bloodshed erupted as tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets for “Good Friday” protests to test long sought-after freedoms a day after Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule.
The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving force behind the protests, marked the tone on Saturday by posting on its main Facebook page a black banner with the word “Mourning” in English and Arabic. It came as tens of thousands of mourners packed buses and headed for the southern town of Ezreh for the funerals of 18 people killed the previous day, a rights activist told AFP by telephone. Another activist later said “12 martyrs were buried in Ezreh” and that two men — Yasser Nseirat and Jamal Qanbar — who were part of the funeral cortege heading for the town were shot dead by security forces. Other activists spoke of five mourners killed in Ezreh and outside a hospital in Daraa, with the toll expected to rise.
“More than 150 buses left from Daraa and neighbouring villages to attend the funerals of 18 martyrs killed Friday in Ezreh,” in Daraa province, an activist requesting anonymity said. Daraa has been an epicentre of protests against the regime of Assad, who also scrapped the feared state security court on Thursday and signed a decree “to regulate” peaceful protests in the autocratic country. Snipers also pinned down mourners in the northern Damascus suburb of Douma, killing at least five people on Saturday, a witness and a human rights activist there told AFP.
They opened fire from roof-tops as mourners marched from a local mosque to a cemetery, the sources said, adding that tens of thousands of people took part in the procession. Activists also reported at least one person shot dead by security forces in the Barzeh district of Damascus. A group called the Committee of Martyrs of 15 March Revolution issued a list of 82 names of people killed on Friday, but said the toll from the “massacre” could reach 100 as it tried to confirm more deaths.