Conflict & Justice

On the road to Damascus


Bodies of people killed by Syrian security forces during protests in Daraa city, stored in a mobile refrigerator, May 4, 2011.

For the second Friday in a row Qaboun, a neighborhood in north-east Damascus, held the largest opposition protest to hit the capital, with at least 20,000 protestors marching through the streets before coming under attack by security forces, who killed at least 12.

While most international observers working on the basis that mass protests against the Assad dictatorship have yet to make a significant impact in the capital Damascus, videos from Qaboun, nestled on the flanks of the Qassioun mountain over the past two Fridays show massive protests.

On July 8, a YouTube video shows a crowd pouring down the main street in Qaboun, calling for the toppling of the regime. Activists and a reporter on the ground estimated its size as between 15,000 and 20,000, making it the largest protest inside Damascus since the uprising began.

Today’s crowd was estimated to be even larger, up to 25,000 in all marching down the main road, according to SRCU, a local opposition network. 

As well as at least 12 fatalities, activists said at least 75 protestors were injured after plain clothes security men opened fire with hunting rifles as well as Kalashnikovs, making it one of the deadliest days for protestors in the capital so far.

A video said to be from Qaboun this afternoon shows a man opening fire with what appears to be a hunting rifle.
The protestors carried banners and chanted for President Assad to step down, some carrying old Syrian flags from the time of the country’s independence in 1946.

“We gathered together from the three main mosques. All the people of Qaboun are now protesting against the Assad regime,” said Abu Ammar, a 30-year-old protestor in Qaboun.

“We are more organized now. There are some people who write the banners, some film and some protect the Baath Party and municipality buildings. Our women are with us and we are not afraid for them. The army and security men fire tear gas and live ammunition at us and we keep walking.”

A member of the SRCU in Qaboun said protests had been going on daily in Qaboun for the past 51 days.
“Everyone in Qaboun knows each other well,” he said. “We’re not the rich and we’re not the very poor and very few of us work for the state. We’re the people and we do not need Bashar anymore.”