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Student unions urged to show solidarity with their Syrian counterparts
- Friday, May 04, 2012 - From Print Edition


BEIRUT: Syria's main opposition group on Thursday called for a nationwide student strike after pro-government forces killed four students in Aleppo and arrested some 200 following anti-regime protests.


In a statement, the Syrian National Council (SNC), an exile umbrella opposition organisation, urged the strike "in solidarity with students at Aleppo University."


The university in Syria's second city and commercial hub was shut down Thursday until final exams after a night-time raid by regime forces that monitors say left four studentsí dead and 28 wounded, three of them critically.


About 200 students were also detained in the assault that took place following an anti-regime protest on campus, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


Activists and students said security forces raided the dormitories, threw out students and their belongings and torched some of the rooms. Witnesses said some of the students jumped out of windows to avoid arrest.


Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, said the events in Aleppo could mark a turning point for the northern city which has largely been spared the unrest shaking the country for nearly 14 months.


"The city of Aleppo hasn't joined the anti-regime revolt thus far but the seriousness of these events will push residents to mobilise in solidarity with the students," he told AFP. "Security forces stormed the university in response to increased student protests lately inside and outside the campus," he added. "The university suspended classes because neither the management nor the security forces seem able to control the situation."


In a video posted by activists on YouTube, heavy gunfire and screams are heard while dozens of men, identified as members of the security and intelligence services, are seen entering the campus.


The video could not be authenticated as Syrian authorities have restricted access to foreign media.


Several protests in solidarity with the Aleppo students broke out Thursday in various universities across the country, activists said.


The SNC called on authorities to reopen the university, the second largest in the country, and for students detained to be released.


It also urged student unions across the Arab world to show solidarity with their Syrian counterparts and for UN observers monitoring a tenuous ceasefire in the country to investigate the unrest in Aleppo.


"The attack on the University of Aleppo is an affront on the values of civilization and must be answered in a way the murderous regime will understand," it said.


"The SNC calls for student strikes across Syria, and for the observers to immediately go to the University of Aleppo."