A provincial attorney general and a judge were assassinated Sunday in Syria in what the regime called another attack targeting officials.
Attorney General Nidal Ghazal of Idlib province, Judge Mohammed Ziyadeh and their driver were fatally shot on their way to work by an “armed terrorist group,” the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency reported.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also acknowledged the deaths, but said the three were killed by “unknown assailants.”
The deaths follow the Saturday assassination of Aleppo city council member Jamal al-Bish, who was also killed by an “armed terrorist group,” SANA said. And last weekend, SANA reported a Syrian general was gunned down in Damascus — perhaps the first significant hint that the resistance is spreading to the seats of power.
But in a country where some civilians live in constant fear of government attack, opposition activists said two more residents died Sunday at the hands of regime forces.
One civilian was shot to death at a security checkpoint in Aleppo, and a woman was killed by indiscriminate gunfire in the embattled city of Homs, the Syrian Observatory said.
As violence spiraled unabated, opposition activists say the regime has snatched up hundreds of doctors.
At least 295 doctors have been arrested during the 11-month Syrian uprising as part of a “fierce campaign” against physicians, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria, a network of opposition activists.
In the past three days, security forces seized three doctors from Damascus — including two from their clinics, the LCC said Sunday.
For weeks, opposition activists have bemoaned a shortage of doctors and medical supplies as parts of Syria came under siege.
Residents — particularly in the opposition stronghold of Homs — describe an endless nightmare of random shelling on houses, snipers perched on rooftops and wounded civilians dying long, painful deaths because they can’t get the medical care needed to save their lives.
Even those mourning the dead can’t escape the government’s relentless onslaught.
At least two people were killed at a massive funeral and protest Saturday in Damascus, the LCC said. Security forces confronted the tens of thousands of mourners and protesters with gunfire and tear gas, the group said.
The two were among 17 killed across Syria on Saturday, according to the LCC.
More than 8,500 people have been killed since the Syrian government’s crackdown on peaceful demonstrators started almost a year ago, LCC spokeswoman Rafif Jouejati said. The United Nations has said well over 5,000 people have died, though it does not have a recent death count due to the conditions in the country.
In recent months, more opposition fighters have taken up arms against government soldiers, police and militia.
World powers decry the violence but have been unable to stop it. Some countries have pulled their diplomats out of Syria.
Egypt decided Sunday to keep its ambassador to Damascus, Shawky Ismail, “in Cairo until further notice,” state-run EgyNews.net reported.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry issued a statement “calling for a response to the demands of the Syrian people, and that it is an obligation for the Syrian leadership and government to stop the violence and begin to respond to the demands of the people particularly after the events of Homs,” EgyNews.net said.
On Saturday, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun met with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, not far from where the deadly violence at the mass funeral took place.
“I exchanged clear and profound viewpoints with President al-Assad about the Syrian issue. … China, as a friendly country to Syria, is following with great concern the developments here,” Zhai said, according to state-run Syrian Arab News Agency.
China, like Russia, has vetoed attempts by the U.N. Security Council to denounce the al-Assad regime amid escalating reports of government brutality in Syria.
Zhai said China urged all sides “to sit on the dialogue table to reach a comprehensive political plan.”
“I briefed President al-Assad on China’s basic stance image over the Syrian issue. This stance is represented by calling on the Syrian government, armed men and the opposition to an immediate halt of acts of violence against civilians.”
CNN cannot independently confirm opposition and government reports of violence because the Syrian government has severely restricted the access of international journalists.
The Syrian regime has denied reports that al-Assad’s forces are targeting civilians, saying they are fighting armed gangs and foreign fighters bent on destabilizing the government.
But the vast majority of accounts from within the country indicate Syrian forces are slaughtering civilians in an attempt to wipe out dissidents calling for al-Assad’s ouster.
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