Syrian protesters given surrender ultimatum


The authorities in Syria on Monday set a deadline of 15 days for people who had committed “unlawful acts” to give themselves up, as a wave of arrests was reported across the country. The ultimatum came as activists planned fresh anti-government demonstrations following the deaths of dozens of people in weekend protests.
In a statement, the interior ministry told “citizens who have participated in or committed unlawful acts such as bearing arms, attacking security or spreading lies to surrender by May 15 and hand their weapons in to the competent authorities.” It also called on Syrians to “supply information about saboteurs, terrorists and arms caches… they will be spared any subsequent legal consequences.”
A military spokesman on Monday announced the arrest of 499 people in the southern flashpoint town of Daraa, a week after thousands of troops backed by tanks swooped on the town to crush protests. The spokesman also announced the deaths of two members of the security forces “as well as 10 terrorists.” Eight soldiers were wounded and five gunmen waiting in ambush were arrested, the military added. According to the opposition Syrian Revolution 2011 website, security forces on Monday at dawn also entered the Kafar Nubbol area, 320 kilometres (200 miles) north of Damascus, and took over houses and arrested 26 people. The site — a driving force behind the protests — urged Syrians across the country to mobilise every day at noon in solidarity with Daraa and all “besieged towns.” “We say to this regime: ‘The court of the people will judge you’,” it said.
President Bashar al-Assad’s government has persistently blamed the violence on “armed criminal gangs” and “terrorist groups.” Hundreds of dissidents were arrested on Sunday, including in Daraa and the besieged Damascus suburb of Douma, after dozens of people were killed in weekend protests, activists said. Human rights groups say the civilian death toll from unprecedented demonstrations that erupted on March 15 has topped 580.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Monday that Assad’s regime will fall if it continues its bloody crackdown. “If the regime perseveres down this path, it will fall, one day or another, but it will fall,” Juppe told Europe 1 radio. “Today there is this great hope for freedom and democracy. You must take this into account and putting it down by firing live rounds into crowds is unacceptable whichever country does it,” he said.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday denounced the “disgraceful” crackdown and urged more global pressure against Damascus, although Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu warned against foreign military intervention. The United States has blocked assets of Assad’s brother Maher, who commands the feared Fourth Armoured Division, as well as top officials and Syria’s intelligence services. The European Union is also preparing a raft of sanctions, including an arms embargo.