Assad Replaces 2 Governors in Syria’s Protest Hubs


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has replaced governors in two provinces that have seen months of protests against his 11-year rule.

Syria’s state news agency said Sunday Assad appointed new governors for the Damascus countryside and for the northern province of Idlib, bordering Turkey. It says the rural Damascus post was given to Hussein Makhlouf and the Idlib position was handed to Yasser al-Shoufi.

President Assad also has fired several other provincial governors since nationwide anti-government protests erupted in March. The United Nations says Assad’s ongoing crackdown on the protests has killed more than 3,000 people.

The Syrian government says terrorist gangs have killed hundreds of security personnel in the unrest.

In the latest violence, a rights group says government forces shot and killed two people in the central province of Hama early Sunday. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says residents of al-Madiq village turned a funeral for the two people into an anti-Assad rally.

Syrian rights activists say the government also sent security forces into towns in the southern province of Daraa to end an opposition protest strike that began Thursday. The activists posted an Internet video that appears to show stores closed in observance of the strike.

There was no independent confirmation of the strike or the latest violence. Syria has barred most international media from operating in the country.