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Syrian soldiers shot for refusing to fire at protestors in Banias

April 13, 2011 - Damascus

Syrian soldiers have reportedly been shot by security forces for disobeying orders to fire at protestors in Banias.

The Guardian quoted witnesses as saying that some soldiers had refused to shoot after the army moved into Banias as the protests intensified on Friday.

According to human rights monitors, Mourad Hejjo, a conscript from Madaya village, was one of those shot by security snipers.

"His family and town are saying he refused to shoot at his people," Wassim Tarif, a local human rights monitor, said.

Meanwhile, footages on YouTube has shown an injured soldier saying that he was shot in the back by security forces, while another video shows the funeral of another soldier, who sources said was killed for refusing to fire on protesters.

However, state media reported a different version of events by claiming that nine soldiers were killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.

Tarif also said not that all soldiers might not have been killed for refusing to fire, adding: "We are investigating reports that some people have personal weapons and used them in self-defence."

The reports came as a leading Syrian opposition figure said pro-government gunmen had attacked two villages, Bayda and Beit Jnad, close to Banias.

Thousands of people are protesting against the autocratic regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, the President blames the violence on armed gangs and has vowed to crush unrest.


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