DAMASCUS – Anti-government demonstrations were reported to be breaking out across Syria after morning prayers on the day of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, BBC News reported. Thousands took to the streets, including in suburbs of the capital, Damascus, demanding the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Activists say Syrian security forces opened fire in several areas, killing at least seven people, mainly in the south, near Deraa. One was also killed in Homs, they say. More were wounded there and elsewhere. Syrian state television showed President Assad attending prayers in a Damascus mosque and taking coffee and cakes with fellow worshippers before being whisked away.
But elsewhere, even in some nearby suburbs of the capital, thousands of people were spilling into the streets demanding the downfall of his regime. Communications were cut in many parts of the country, and security forces moved into the streets around the mosques.
Much of the focus was also on cemeteries, where it is customary to visit the graves of relatives on the Eid. At one, in the Qaboun suburb of Damascus, a crowd was surrounded by security forces who opened fire, according to activists, causing casualties. They are also reported to have shot at demonstrators in Deir al-Zour in the east, and elsewhere, as demonstrations were reported from virtually all corners of the country.
Meanwhile, the European Union says preparations for an embargo on imports of oil from Syria are being finalized and the ban could be implemented within days, an EU representative said, according to CNN.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed her “continued deep concern about the violence perpetrated by the Syrian regime against peaceful demonstrators, human rights activists, and the Syrian people” in a statement Tuesday. She urged government security forces to stop their “brutal repression” of the Syrian people.