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February 1, 2023

Syria death toll rises as threats of force become more explicit

DAMASCUS – At least three people were shot dead and scores more wounded in shootings in the port city of Banias on Sunday amid reports that the army, already deployed in Deraa and Latakia, was being deployed, The Guardian reports.

Human rights groups named Ayman Soliman, Nizar Higazy and Muhammad al-Dayegh as those killed after Sunday prayers, while a further person was in a critical condition after being shot during earlier unrest the same day. The fresh violence came as Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, said in a statement that the country was “on course to comprehensive reform”. But protesters rejected the claims, pointing to an apparent warning by the government of further violence issued amid Friday’s protests, the largest and most deadly yet. A statement carried by the state news agency Sana said: “There is no more room for leniency or tolerance” in “preserving security of the country and protecting the general order”.

This would be done “according to the law which specified the conditions for using weapons”. Up until now the government has not admitted to using force, blaming the crackdown on outsiders.

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