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Friday, May 27, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Video said to show Assad's 'shoot-to-kill policy' against protesters

LONDON — President Bashar Assad appears to have ordered his security forces to kill protesters.


A leading human rights group has obtained a video of Syrian security forces that appeared to highlight Assad's policy to destroy the opposition. The London-based Amnesty International said the footage shows that Assad was pursuing a "shoot-to-kill policy."

"Amnesty International has obtained video footage that points to a shoot-to-kill policy being used by the Syrian security forces to quell reform protests," Amnesty said.

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[On late May 26, Syrian troops opened fire toward hundreds of protesters in the southern city of Dera, Middle East Newsline reported. Witnesses said the protesters defied the presence of main battle tanks and thousands of army and police.]

Amnesty said the policy appeared to have been introduced as early as March during the first days of the protests against the Assad regime. The footage showed security forces shooting toward the heads of civilians in Dera in late March and early April.

Human rights groups have reported more than 1,100 dead in the Assad crackdown, most of them in Dera and Homs. They said Assad's military and security forces have routinely employed everything from automatic fire to tank shells to stop the protests.

"Images of unarmed civilians shot in the head help explain why there have been so many fatalities," Amnesty deputy director Philip Luther said on May 26. "Together with footage of soldiers celebrating deaths, they document what appears to be a shoot-to-kill policy."

The video included a night raid by security forces of a mosque in Dera. The footage showed plainclothes officers filming bodies on the floor of the mosque and shouting "Take pictures. We killed them. They are traitors."

Other scenes showed uniformed officers bludgeoning injured men sprawled on the road. Syrian protesters with head injuries were also seen in the footage. Amnesty said it has obtained the names of 720 people killed by the regime.

"Faced with this and other compelling evidence of rampant abuses, President Bashar Assad must stop the Syrian security forces shooting unarmed protesters and ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their treatment of fellow Syrians," Amnesty said.

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