41 civilians die as Syrian forces attempt to crush pro-democracy protests, a human rights lawyer said on Wednesday, as opposition leaders met in Turkey to plot the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported.
According to a witness, Lawyer Razan Zaitouna, who spoke to Reuters via telephone from Damascus,a four-year-old girl was among the 41 dead in Rastan on Tuesday. Five of them were buried on Wednesday.
Syrian forces also killed nine civilians on Tuesday in the town of Hirak, rights campaigner Ammar Qurabi said on Wednesday.
Qurabi, who heads the Syrian Human Rights Organization, told Reuters that among the nine dead, were three doctors, one dentist and an 11-year-old girl, who were killed by snipers, and during the storming of houses in Hirak, where tanks were deployed this week.
Rights groups say 1,000 civilians have been killed as Assad seeks to crush a revolt which has turned into the gravest challenge to his 11-year rule. The severity of the crackdown has provoked international condemnation and sanctions.
The revolution inside Syria has declared 'the people want the overthrow of the regime'. We echo it. The price of the blood being shed can only be freedom, Abdelrazzaq Eid, a senior figure in the Damascus Declaration umbrella opposition group, told a conference in the Turkish coastal city of Antalya.
This is the first of the official meeting of activists and opposition figures in exile since protests erupted 10 weeks ago in Deraa, a poor, agricultural city in southern Syria.
The dictatorship has presented nothing to show a modicum of good intentions. It has lost any legitimacy by firing at and killing its own people, Eid said,to the applause of delegates.
Syrian authorities from the start, has blamed armed groups, backed by Islamists and foreign agitators, for the unrest in which more than 120 police and soldiers have already been killed.
The meeting in Turkey brought together a broad spectrum of opposition figures driven abroad over the last 30 years, from Islamists crushed in the 1980s, to fleeing Christians.
Assad's handling of the protests triggered U.S. and European Union sanctions on members of the ruling hierarchy, including himself, after four years of detente with the West. Syria's backer Turkey has also begun to criticize Assad, the report stated.