Activist group: Ex-Olympic boxer wounded in Syria
A Syrian boxer who won a medal at the 2004 Olympics was injured
along with at least 20 others Monday as President Bashar Assad’s
regime swept through several cities and towns to crush a
pro-democracy uprising, activists said.
Nasser al-Shami, a heavyweight who shared the bronze medal in
Athens, was in stable condition after being hit by shotgun pellets
in the city of Hama, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the London-based
director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Abdul-Rahman
said he spoke to the doctor who treated the athlete.
Syrian troops and tanks sealed off Hama and blocked the roads
leading in, an apparent attempt to crush growing dissent there and
retake the city one month after security forces withdrew. About
300,000 protesters held huge protests against the regime in Hama
last week, a sign the city was spiraling out of government
”There is some kind of a siege on the city. They are closing
all roads leading to Hama,” said Syria-based rights activist
Hama, which has a history of militancy against the Assad regime,
was targeted in a major government crackdown nearly three decades
ago. In 1982, Assad’s late father and predecessor, Hafez Assad,
ordered his troops to crush a rebellion by Sunni fundamentalists,
killing between 10,000 and 25,000 people, rights groups say.
Also Monday, activists said Syrian security forces opened fire
on people fleeing to neighboring Turkey, wounding a mother and her
Thousands of Syrians have already taken shelter in refugee camps
in Turkey, a source of deep embarrassment to Damascus. To the
south, in the Damascus suburb of Dumair, armored personnel carriers
rolled in after all telecommunications were cut, an activist in the
The activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of
reprisals, said soldiers and plainclothes policemen were randomly
detaining all men from teenagers to people in their 60s.
The uprising against Assad has lasted nearly four months despite
a deadly government crackdown that has brought international
condemnation and sanctions. Assad is facing the most serious
challenge to his family’s four decades of rule in Syria.
Activists say security forces have killed more than 1,400 people
– most of them unarmed protesters – since mid-March. The regime
disputes the toll, blaming ”armed thugs” and foreign conspirators
for the unrest.
Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted media
coverage, making it nearly impossible to independently verify
events on the ground. But witness accounts, including interviews
with refugees who have fled to neighboring countries, indicate a
brutal crackdown on the protest movement.
Follow Bassem Mroue at http://twitter.com/bmroue