Syrian authorities blame violence on Muslim jihadists

Syria’s Interior Ministry has called the latest violence in several Syrian provinces an “armed mutiny led by Salafi armed groups,” official SANA news agency said.

The ministry’s statement on Monday said militants belonging to radical Salafist Muslim organizations had killed dozens of police, servicemen and civilians, destroyed property and blocked public roads.

“Those groups aim to create chaos and terrify the Syrian people, exploiting the reform and freedom process launched within a comprehensive program according to specific timetables announced by President Bashar al-Assad during his speech to the new government,” SANA cited the ministry.

A new government was formed in Syria last Thursday as the country’s leadership attempts to ease pressure from protesters for reform. Assad has also pledged to lift this week an emergency law dating back 48 years.

The ministry’s statement indicates, though, that the government would not be lenient with the insurrection and could use harsher measures to quell the protests.

Syrian mass protests started in Daraa on the border with Jordan on March 18. They were prompted by the arrest of a group of school students who wrote anti-government mottos on walls. Later the unrest spread to other Syrian regions. Unofficial data suggest hundreds of protesters could have been killed.

Public protests in the Middle East and North Africa have recently ousted regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, and led to a raging civil war in Libya.

MOSCOW, April 19 (RIA Novosti)


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