Watchman Newsletter

�Syrian residents fight back gov�t troops for first time�

The Jerusalem Post (Link) (May 31, 2011)

Syrian residents on Monday fought back for the first time against government troops in a two-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad, The Associated Press reported Tuesday.

According to the report, residents used automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades to fend off advancing troops, raising fears that the uprising may turn into a �Libya-style� armed conflict.

Until Monday�s battle, Syrian opposition groups have taken to the streets unarmed, although authorities have claimed the fighting has been led by armed gangs.

Activists said that residents of Talbiseh and Rastan, in the central Syrian province of Homs, decided to go on the offensive against Assad�s forces, in a clash that killed at least four civilians, AP reported.

�They felt that they cannot sit back anymore and pray for God to help them,�� a Homs resident was quoted as saying by AP.

Meanwhile, another two bodies were discovered yesterday in the area of Bab Amro cemetery, putting the death toll from the crackdown in the country�s center at 15, a local rights group said.

�The army is facing armed resistance and is not able to enter the two towns,�� another Homs resident was quoted as saying.

Other activists confirmed residents had fought back, but noted that individuals were trying to protect themselves, as opposed to mobilizing into an organized armed resistance, AP said.

Also on Monday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the brutality and repression in Syria and Libya against anti-government protesters is �shocking.� She urged the Syrian government to permit a UN-fact finding mission to enter the country. �