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Syrian protest violence continues

Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 02:35

Apr 30 - Violence continues as human rights group claims 50 more dead after protests on Friday, while many seek to leave the violence behind, fleeing to Lebanon and Turkey as U.S. imposes sanctions and UN launches investigation. Jessica Gray reports

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The Syrian government's crackdown on protesters continues. A human rights group says at least 48 civilians were killed on Friday during pro-democracy demonstrations. Amateur video posted on a social media website shows large protests across the country as Syrians demand President Bashar al-Assad step down. Reuters was unable to independently verify the footage. The ongoing violence has prompted thousands to flee the country. Some have sought asylum in Lebanon, crossing the border on foot. This woman says she is afraid of the army, which has flooded cities at the heart of the protests with tanks and armed militia. Another 300 made their way to Turkey's Hatay province on Friday. The U.S. has responded to the crackdown with a series of sanctions against key members of Syria's government, including al-Assad as well as his brother and cousin. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON "The sanctions that were announced today are intended to show the Syrian government that its behavior and actions are going to be held to account and they must begin taking steps to respond to the legitimate aspirations of their people and respect the rights of their people." The sanctions include freezing assets and bans on doing business with the U.S. They are the first concrete steps the country has taken since the unrest began. But critics worry the sanctions will not have much effect. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRIAN KATULIS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS, THINK TANK "These sanctions are mostly about sending a message to the Syrian regime, but unfortunately, I think they're mostly symbolic, because for decades, U.S. policy has, in a sense, sanctioned itself out of influence in Damascus with a series of sanctions against Syria because of their support and state-sponsorship of terror and a range of issues." The UN's human rights bodies is also condemning the government's crackdown and is launching an investigation into the killings and other alleged crimes. Rights groups claim some 500 civilians have been killed since protests began in Deraa city in March. Authorities dispute the death toll and say 78 security forces and another 70 civilians have died. Jessica Gray, Reuters

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Syrian protest violence continues

Saturday, April 30, 2011 - 02:35