Syria rebels seize prison near Jordan, free inmates

Updated 15 May 2014

Syria rebels seize prison near Jordan, free inmates

BEIRUT: Rebels seized a prison outside the city where Syria’s uprising began three years ago this month and freed dozens of inmates, activists said on Wednesday.
They took control of the Gharaz Central Prison on the outskirts of Daraa near Syria’s border with Jordan after fighting off President Bashar Assad’s forces.
Rebel supporters posted videos online showing what they said were fighters touring the prison grounds and greeting and embracing prisoners they had freed.
“God give life to the Free Syrian Army,” men chanted in one video, referring to anti-Assad rebel fighters. Another video showed four bodies of what were said to be pro-Assad soldiers. “This is the fate of all tyrants,” the man filming said.
Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Britain-based monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said more than 300 people had been held in the prison but it was not clear how many had been freed on Wednesday, although videos showed dozens.
The prison had held inmates who were arrested at protests, he said. But it was not immediately clear how many of those freed were political prisoners.
Fighting for the prison had gone on for more than 50 days before rebels took it Wednesday morning, and six rebel fighters had been killed in the fighting yesterday, Abdulrahman said.
Elsewhere, insurgents have suffered a series of losses to Assad’s forces along the Lebanese border to the north.

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

Updated 14 min 48 sec ago

Sudan police tear gas protesters ahead of parliament march

  • Video clips circulating online show hundreds of security forces in Khartoum and more heading to nearby Omdurman
  • Longtime ruler Omar Al-Bashir insists there will be no change of leadership except through the ballot box

KHARTOUM: Sudanese police fired tear gas on Sunday at protesters ahead of a planned march on parliament in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum, witnesses said.

Demonstrators chanting “freedom, peace and justice” began gathering in some areas of Omdurman but were quickly confronted by riot police with tear gas, the witnesses said.

Deadly protests which erupted on December 19 after a government decision to raise the price of bread have turned into nationwide rallies against President Omar Al-Bashir’s three decade rule.

Officials say at least 26 people, including two security personnel, have died during a month of protests, while rights group Amnesty International last week put the death toll at more than 40.

The Sudanese Professionals Association, an umbrella group of trade unions that is leading the ongoing protest movement, called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday and several days over the coming week.

“We are calling for a march to parliament in Omdurman on Sunday,” it said in a statement.

“The protesters will submit to parliament a memorandum calling on President Bashir to step down,” added the association, which represents the unions of doctors, teachers and engineers.

Over the past month, protesters have staged several demonstrations in Omdurman.

The SPA said there will also be rallies in Khartoum on Sunday, to be followed by night-time demonstrations on Tuesday in the capital and in Omdurman.

“And on Thursday there will be rallies across all towns and cities of Sudan,” the statement added.