Syrian security forces killed at least 16 people on Friday, including a teenage boy, as thousands of people poured into the streets across the country calling for the downfall of President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime, activists said.
The unrest also appeared to be spilling over into neighboring Lebanon. A senior member of a Lebanese political party allied with Syria was killed on Friday after gunmen opened fire and lobbed a grenade near hundreds of people holding an anti-Assad protest in northern Lebanon, a security official said in Beirut.
The protests in Syria came hours after Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships seized control of another north-western town in the latest military operation to quell the dissent.
Since the protests erupted in mid-March, Assad has unleashed the military to crush street demonstrations. Human rights activists say more than 1400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 detained.
“What is our guilt? We just demanded freedom and democracy, nothing else,” said Mohamed, who spoke from a refugee camp in neighbouring Turkey and asked to be identified only by his first name.
He and other refugees offered fresh accounts of summary executions to suppress the pro-democracy movement.
Mohamed said he “saw people who were beheaded with machinegun fire from helicopters”, and a man tortured to death when security forces “poured acid on to his body”.
Mohamed fled with his family as the military besieged Jisr al-Shughour, a rebellious town the government recaptured last Sunday.
He said a sugar factory in the city was turned into a jail where they “hold quick trials and execute anyone who they believe participated in protests”.
He is among about 9600 people are seeking shelter in Turkish refugee camps. On Friday, UN envoy Angelina Jolie travelled to Turkey’s border with Syria to meet some of the thousands of Syrian refugees.
The Syrian crackdown has brought international condemnation and sanctions on the regime. Agencies