Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Deadly mortar attack hits Assad gathering in Syria

23 May 2014, 13:14

Beirut - A mortar shell struck an election gathering in southern Syria for President Bashar Assad, killing a number of people, state media and opposition activists reported on Friday.

Assad, rarely seen in public since the start of Syria's 3-year-old conflict, has not been seen campaigning since he announced his candidacy last month and was not at the gathering in the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising against his rule began.

More than 160 000 people have been killed in the fighting as the revolt morphed into civil war that's also sent millions fleeing for their lives and turned once-prosperous cities into rubble-strewn warzones.

The state-run Sana news agency said the mortar strike late on Thursday killed an unspecific number of people. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on activists on the ground for its reports, said the shelling targeted an "electoral tent" where Assad's supporters had gathered and killed 21 people, including 11 civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Rebels trying to overthrow Assad frequently fire mortar shells into Syria's major cities, including the capital, Damascus, from opposition-held suburbs.

The attack underscores concerns that rebels will step up attacks against government strongholds in the run-up to the election to disrupt the voting.

Public gatherings

In Lebanon, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has warned Syrian refugees against holding rallies and gatherings ahead of the vote.

More than a million Syrians have sought shelter in Lebanon, straining the country's resources and threatening to re-ignite the Arab nation's own explosive sectarian mix. Fighting between Lebanese factions supporting opposing sides in Syria's conflict has frequently broken up in Lebanon.

In a statement on Thursday, Machnouk asked the refugees "not to hold any political gatherings and not to hold public meetings with political dimensions that could in any way affect the security and stability of Lebanon".

He also called on the Lebanese security force to show "no leniency and deal firmly with any act or activity that could destabilise the internal security".

In Syria, public gatherings by Assad's supporters are being held, often in tents, in some government-controlled parts of the country ahead of 3 June presidential election.

Assad is widely expected to win a third, seven-year mandate in the vote criticised by the West and opposition groups as a sham.

Assad's family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years. Though this year's vote will be the first time the family has faced challengers as opposed to a yes-or-no vote on their rule, a recently passed election law makes it impossible for those leading the revolt against Assad to compete.

Assad was last seen in public on 20 April when Syrian state television broadcast images of him visiting the ancient Christian village of Maaloula north of Damascus. Government forces recently recaptured the town, part of a series of major advances ahead of the vote.

On Thursday, Syrian tanks backed by massive air power rolled into the grounds of a sprawling prison in the northern city of Aleppo, breaking a yearlong rebel siege and allowing Assad's forces to close in on a nearby rebel command centre.

Aleppo is Syria's largest city and has been carved up into government- and rebel-held areas since the opposition fighters launched an offensive in the north in mid-2012.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...