Syrian protesters mark six months of revolution

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called for “coherent” global action over Syria’s deadly crackdown on dissent and the European Parliament demanded the immediate departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

As Syria marked six months of anti-regime protests, opposition figures identified members of a “National Council” and protesters urged more rallies, undaunted by the crackdown that has killed more than 2,600 people.

“Enough is enough,” said the increasingly frustrated UN secretary general.

“When he has not been keeping his promises, enough is enough and the international community should really take coherent measures and speak in one voice,” Mr Ban said about Mr Assad.

Mr Ban has had several telephone conversations with Mr Assad since the protests erupted on March 15, during which the Syrian President repeatedly promised to end the bloody crackdown and institute political reforms.

“These promises have become now broken promises,” Mr Ban said, adding that it was for UN member states and the UN Security Council to decide what action should be taken after Syria ignored repeated international appeals.

Western powers have called for a Security Council resolution laying out sanctions against Mr Assad, but that is deadlocked because of opposition from Russia, China and other countries.

The European Parliament also put the squeeze on Mr Assad, adopting a resolution asking him to quit for choosing repression instead of promised reforms.

Mr Assad and his regime must “relinquish power immediately,” said the resolution, as MEPs condemned the use of force and called for a probe into the killings, arrests of regime opponents and alleged torture.

The resolution comes as EU member countries move to adopt further economic sanctions against the Syrian regime, which could include a ban on funding the Syrian central bank with notes printed in Europe.

Opposition figures gathered in Turkey announced a list of names of members of the “Syrian National Council”, revealing only the identities of 72 of the 140-strong body for security reasons as 60 per cent live in Syria, council member Abdel Basset Sidah said.

Basma Qadmani said the council comprises “groups of revolutionary youth, political movements and personalities, activists and technocrats”.

“Six months. More than ever determined to (continue) the March 15 uprising,” activists wrote on Facebook page The Syrian Revolution 2011, one of the main engines of the revolt.

“We have been massacred and we are more determined than ever; we have been thrown in prison and are more determined than ever,” the page said.

“The revolution has burst forth and will not stop until the regime is overthrown.

“A new generation has been born in Syria during the six months of the revolution, a generation that refuses to be servile and to prostrate itself before images of the tyrant,” the page added.

Last week, state television broadcast an interview with Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Harmush, the first officer to publicly declare his desertion in early June in protest at the government's crackdown.

Mr Harmush managed to leave Syria and had been leading the Brigade of Free Officers, a group of dozens of officers who have deserted the regime.

According to opposition sources in Damascus, he was recently captured in Turkey by Syrian intelligence agents and brought back to Syria.

The UN estimates the crackdown on protests has killed 2,600, mostly civilians, since March, while rights groups say thousands of people have been arrested.

Key dates

• March 15: Dozens march in Damascus after a call for a “Day of Dignity” issued via the Facebook website.

• March 23: Activists say about 100 people have been killed in the southern town of Daraa, the focus of the protests.

• April 21: President Bashar al-Assad issues decrees ending a state of emergency in force since 1963.

• April 25-26: The army enters Daraa in a bid to put down the revolt.

• May 31: Mr Assad announces an amnesty for political prisoners.

• June 6: State television says 120 policemen were killed by “armed gangs” in the town of Jisr al-Shu-ghur. Activists speak of a mutiny at a local security headquarters.

• June 13: The army deploys into the northeast of the country, near the border with Iraq.

• June 18: Tanks enter a village bordering Turkey, where 10,000 Syrians have sought refuge.

• June 20: Mr Assad says dialogue could lead to a new constitution and even end his Baath party’s monopoly on power, but refuses to reform Syria as long as there is “chaos.”

• June 30: The protests spread to Aleppo, Syria’s second city.

• July 8: Hundreds of thousands demonstrate in the city of Hama. Both the French and the US ambassadors travel to the town, visits that are denounced by the regime.

• July 15: More than a million people take to the streets across the country, according to activists. At least 28 people are killed by security forces.

• July 25: The government adopts a draft law authorising the creation of political parties alongside the ruling Baath Party.

• July 31: Opposition groups say security forces kill at least 139 people, most of them in the town of Hama.

• August 3: The UN Security Council condemns the crackdown in a statement.

• August 4: Mr Assad issues a decree bringing the law on political parties into force.

• August 7: At least 54 civilians killed, most in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador from Damascus, followed by Kuwait and Bahrain.

• August 14: Syrian military vessels join an assault on the Mediterranean coastal town of Latakia.

• August 18: The UN says Syria’s crackdown on protests may amount to crimes against humanity. US President Barack Obama and his Western allies call on Assad to step down.

• August 23: Opponents of Mr Assad meet in Istanbul to launch a “national council”.

• August 30: The number of deaths in Syrian prisons rose sharply in 2011, Amnesty International says.

• September 1: The attorney general of Hama province says he has resigned.

• September 2: The EU adopts a ban on crude oil imports from Syria.

• September 12: The UN commissioner for human rights says at least 2,600 people have died in the unrest; 14 are reported killed in a new military assault on Hama.

• September 15: As the protests pass the six-month mark, activists vow to continue until victory.


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