President Assad dismissed his cousin Faisal Ahmed Kulthum, governor of Deraa, who was charged with murder following the riot of Deraa. He immediately appointed his successor and received (pictured).

The city of Dara’a witnessed yesterday several funerals for scores of residents who were reportedly killed over the weekend and during the “Friday of steadfastness” which opposition groups had called for. Al-Jazeera channel reported on Friday night that 37 civilians were killed in clashes in Dara’a, Homs and Harasta outside Damascus. Syrian official T.V announced on the same evening that 19 security guards were killed in clashes with gunmen in Dar’aa. The former governor as well as the security chief of Dara’a have been taken to court, reports El-Ikhbaria TV. Faisal Kulthum and General Atef Jajib have had charges brought against them by the government for their role in events which have led to the deaths of numerous demonstrators over the past four weeks.

The interior ministry issued a statement saying there was “no more room for leniency or tolerance in enforcing the law” – referring to the law governing the use of weapons – and foreign minister Walid al-Moallem told foreign ambassadors in Damascus that protestors’ demands are “legitimate” but that the actions of “saboteurs” – a reference to the government line that “armed gangs” are behind the violence – will not be tolerated.

Meanwhile a panel discussion on lifting the emergency law in place since 1962 was aired on state television. Dr Abboud Sarraj, a law professor at Damascus University, said: “Terminating the state of emergency is a good idea, yet we have to study all the possibilities that might surround it, that’s why we’d like to listen to the views of citizens to reach satisfactory outcomes.’’ The panel discussed regulating public demonstrations, terrorism, and the courts.

In other news the editor-in-chief of the state-run Tishreen newspaper, Samira al-Masalmeh, was sacked after comments she made to Al-Jazeera last Friday in which she called for those responsible for the killings in Dara’a to be held accountable, Syria Today has learnt. Masalmeh told the Qatari news network: “The instructions not to fire on demonstrators were contravened. If there is a third party doing this, which I believe is the case, the security forces must bring them to justice.” It was reported last week that she may have been in the running for the post of information minister or labor and social affairs minister in the new government. The new government, headed by Adel Safar, is believed to be formed within this week.

Syria Today (Syria)