[QODLink]
Middle East
Syrian forces 'kill 12 people across country'
Activists say 12 people killed on Tuesday, as Turkish FM holds first formal talks with opposition group in Ankara.
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2011 11:18
A man holds up a map of Syria with the words 'Homs you are in our hearts' during a protest in the city [AFP]

Activists in Syria have said that at least 12 people were on killed on Tuesday by security forces, as neighbouring Turkey held its first formal talks with Syrian opposition leaders.

Five civilians were shot dead on Tuesday and dozens of others wounded when security forces opened fire in the Daraa town of Herak, according to the the Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an activist network.

The LCC said that demonstrators had taken to the streets in Herak to protest against the arrest of a local cleric, Sheikh Wajih Kaddah.

 

They said that five people were also killed in Homs, while two more protesters were reported dead in suburbs of the capital Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a wide network of sources on the ground, reported that a sniper killed an intelligence officer in Idlib province, bordering Turkey, as armed resistance to the security forces spread.

Tuesday's raids led some parents to keep their children home from school in areas near the capital out of fear for their safety, as armoured vehicles took up positions and soldiers made sweeping arrests, Rami Abdul-Rahman of the Observatory said.

Opposition meetings

The UN says more than 3,000 people have been killed since the uprising against the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in mid-March.

Syria's opposition has been trying to join forces under the umbrella of a Syrian National Council to form a united front against Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than four decades.

On Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he had met members of the council in Ankara and advised the group to work towards democratic change in Syria "in a peaceful manner".

The meeting was the first formal contact with the opposition group.

"Unfortunately, despite all our urgings the killings are continuing," Davutoglu said. "It is natural for us to meet with all parties."

Davutoglu also condemned the killing of Syrian human rights activist Ziad al-Obeidi during his meeting, a Turkish foreign ministry official said.

The Syrian National Council was formed in Istanbul in September. No country has recognised it so far as a legal representative of the country. Damascus has threatened tough measures against any country that does.

Syria has banned foreign reporters and restricted local coverage, making it difficult to independently confirm witness accounts of events in the country.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.