Following the bloodiest day in the revolution, threats from security fail to disperse Homs protesters as an estimated 150,000 gather at the new Hurriyyah (Freedom) Square.
After offering 30 confirmed martyrs to the cause yesterday, the inhabitants of Homs marched to the old Clock-Tower Square, now renamed Al-Hurriyyah (Freedom) Square, for what they billed as a sit-in that will last until regime falls. Mover 150,000 protesters are said to be taking part, chanting slogans of national unity, such as “Peaceful, peaceful, Muslims and Christians,” and the usual and necessary reminder “the people want to topple the regime” and even “the people want to remove the President.” Threats by security forces were met with indifference, as the deadline they gave to protesters to disperse passed and all that the security officers could do is watch with incredulity the unfolding scene.
The Sit-In lasted the entire day and well through the night, but as the day unfolded numbered to around 6,000 protesters around 2am on Tuesday. Shortly after, eyewitnesses reported the beginning of a crackdown by security forces. Early reports spoke of heavy gunfire but mentioned only one fatality and a number of injured. Videos that were posted later seem to confirm these reports. Assad security officers might have been shooting in the air to scare off the remaining protesters, rather than at them, for once. However, later reports indicate that the main theater of events are the side-streets where security officers tried to trap and arrest protesters as they pulled out from the Square, occasionally firing straight at them, as some eyewitnesses asserted. More details and videos will surely emerge by tomorrow, and we hope to be able to provide a more accurate picture of what exactly took place.
Meanwhile, Lattakia held protests and funerals of its own, as Sunday’s death toll has been confirmed at 12 but is expected to rise as we get further confirmation. Communications with Lattakia have been sporadic.
Protests were also reported in a number of Damascene suburbs including, Douma, Barzeh and Mouaddamiyyeh, which witnessed some violent episodes on Independence Sunday as well. Deraa to the South and the Kurdish town of Kobani/Ain Al-Arab to the North also saw protests and demonstrations.