Assad offered to talk to opposition, amid ongoing protests


An anti-regime group in Syria called on supporters to participate in nationwide protests until the end of the week and “reclaim the rights of our fathers.”

The Facebook group, The Syrian Revolution 2011, which boasts more than 100,000 followers and which has emerged as the organizing force behind the demonstrations that have been demanding “freedom” in Syria called Monday for nationwide protests on Tuesday and appealed to all the Syrian ethnic and religious groups to participate: ” We urge all our brothers, Sunnis, Alawites, Druze, Kurds and Christians to participate in the protests …we are all one … we either live in dignity or die as martyrs ”


The southern Syrian town of Daraa, the flashpoint of the pro-democracy protests, was hit by a general strike on Tuesday and braced for fresh rallies after midday prayers, a rights activist said.

“The general strike was largely observed,” he told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that activists had distributed leaflets urging shops to remain closed on Tuesday.

He added security forces fired warning shots on Monday night trying “in vain” to disperse a sit-in outside the Al-Omari mosque, the focal point of more than two weeks of anti-government protests marred by deadly violence.

The strike came a day after President Bashar al-Assad named Mohammad Khaled al-Hannus as the new governor of Daraa. He replaces the much-reviled Faysal Kalthum, sacked on March 23 at the height of protests .

The move was dismissed as not enough by Syrian human rights activists because “the residents of Daraa want more than a switch in governor”.

“They want the security services to stop oppressing them, the emergency law lifted, property rights respected, the detained freed and freedom of expression guaranteed,” an activist told AFP.

Activists estimate more than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, mainly in Daraa and the port city of Latakia, since the start of political unrest.

Willing to talk

Syrian opposition groups leading the anti- government protests based in the country on Tuesday said authorities have offered to meet with them.

“High-level security figures gave the green light for mediators to set dates for separate meetings with opposition figures inside the country,” an opposition source told the German Press Agency DPA.

Some activists said they were ready to take up the offer for talks, provided “it is serious, and not to buy time.”

Other activists, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the offer could be a ploy by security forces to find out more about the various opposition groups coordinating the protests.

UPI, ADP, DPA, Ya Libnan