Damascus stock exchange

An attack on a bus carrying civilians near Homs yesterday that led to the deaths of 10 passengers was blamed on an “armed terrorist group” by the government, SANA reported.

The army carried out “aggressive battles” in Banias taking control of the oil-producing coastal city, according to the privately-owned Al-Watan daily.

No independent observers are allowed to visit areas where clashes have taken place, making verifying official accounts and those of residents contacted by mobile telephone impossible, according to human rights activists contacted by foreign media.

SANA reports that 915 “people involved in chaos” have “handed themselves over” to the authorities since the unrest began.

But Syrians quoted in international media and recently a foreign diplomat has suggested that as many as 7,000 civilians may have been subject to extra-judicial detention around the country.

Riad Seif, a democracy activist, was sentenced in a Syrian court yesterday for violating the government’s ban on demonstrations, according to his lawyer Khalil Maatouk, president of the Syrian Centre for the Defence of Prisoners of Conscience, reported Ya Libnan.

Seif is a member of the Damascus Declaration and has served a previous sentence of two and a half years

After threatening “new action” against Syria following continuing violence over the weekend, the US stance was called opportunism by the Iranian foreign ministry, Iran’s Mehr news agency reported.

A statement released by the ministry read: “we advise U.S. officials to not repeat their historic mistakes through backing the Zionist regime”.

In economic news, Damascus stock exchange apparently gained 1.61 percent yesterday, Al-Watan reported, as traders apparently began buying again.

Finally, despite many businesses laying off workers as the economy is hit by the unrest, a week-long exhibition of Iranian goods has opened in Damascus, reports Iran’s Press TV.

Syria imports about USD 7.1bn of “technical and engineering services” from Iran.

Syria Today (Syria)