Last Updated: Fri Mar 09, 2012 17:08 pm (KSA) 14:08 pm (GMT)

Death toll mounts as Syria intensifies crackdown on Friday protests

Anti-government protesters attend the funeral of Ayman Qadour, whom protesters said was killed by Syrian security, during protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Kafranbel near Idlib. (Reuters)
Anti-government protesters attend the funeral of Ayman Qadour, whom protesters said was killed by Syrian security, during protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Kafranbel near Idlib. (Reuters)

As many as 476 people have been killed by the fire of Syrian security forces on Friday during demonstrations in several cities across the country, including the capital Damascus, activists at the Local Coordination Committees told Al Arabiya.

Security forces shot dead one civilian in a residential neighborhood of Damascus during a crackdown on an act of civil disobedience, opposition activists said. Regime forces also opened fire on a demonstration in the neighborhood of Douma in the capital.

In the flashpoint city of Homs, army tanks continued to shell districts held by the members of the Free Syrian Army.

The funeral of 30-year-old Mohammad Sarayji, the man killed in Damascys, , is due at noon in the district of Kfar Souseh, a statement by the activists said. Previous funerals for slain protesters in the district in the west of the capital, which houses several secret police headquarters and Iranian installations, have turned into large demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad.

Mass shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) rang from the district's homes overnight. Security police who immediately went into the streets shot Sarayji in his back as he was waiting for a bus, said the statement.

The U.N. estimates more than 7,500 civilians have died during Assad's crackdown on the uprising and more than 20,000 have fled the country.

Some 12,000 Syrians are registered at the camps set up to provide refuge for them in Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, after the arrival of around 800 during the past week, according to a Turkish foreign ministry official.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos arrived in Turkey after her trip to Syria on Friday to visit the camps, a U.N. official in Ankara told Reuters.

Syrian refugees have crossed to Turkey in growing numbers in recent days, frightened by a government assault to drive rebels from the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, officials said.

On her trip to Syria, Amos said she was "devastated" by the destruction she had seen in Baba Amr, and wanted to know what happened to its residents, who endured a 26-day military siege before rebels withdrew a week ago.

A Turkish foreign ministry official said Amos would meet Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu at 1100 GMT in Ankara. The U.N. official said she was expected to make a statement at Ankara airport at 1200 GMT.

Amos was then set to make a brief visit to Istanbul, the foreign ministry said.

During the past year Turkey has turned against former friend President Bashar al-Assad over his brutal crackdown, and fears that there could be massacres in Syrian towns and cities that are centers of opposition to his rule.

The United Nations is readying food stocks for 1.5 million people in Syria as part of a 90-day emergency plan to help civilians deprived of basic supplies after nearly a year of conflict.

It has drawn up a 90-day aid plan of $105 million likely to translate into a funding appeal to donors, diplomats and U.N. sources said.

The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) has said it distributed some food supplies in Syria through local aid agencies, but it had not reached people in the areas worst hit by the violence.

Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League special envoy to Syria, said on Thursday he would urge President Assad and his foes to stop fighting and seek a political solution.

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