April 30, 2011: Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters attacked the Omari mosque in Daraa, killing four people. Daraa resident Abdullah Abazeid stated the Syrian military assault on the mosque lasted 90 minutes, during which troops fired tank shells and heavy machine-guns. Three helicopters took part in the operation, dropping paratroopers onto the mosque itself.
The Omari mosque is in the city’s Roman-era old town. Among the dead was Osama Ahmad, the son of the mosque’s imam, Sheik Ahmad Sayasna. The other three were a woman and her two daughters who were killed when a tank shell hit their home near the mosque.
Syrian military forces poured into Daraa, including 20 armoured personnel carriers, four tanks, and a military ambulance, a resident of the city told the media. The operation in the town of Daraa occurred a day after President Bashar Assad unleashed deadly force to crack down on a months-old revolt, killing at least 65 people, mostly in the border town.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul-Rahman, stated 65 people were killed Friday with 36 of the deaths in the Daraa province, 27 in the central Homs region, one in Latakia and another in the Damascus countryside. In all, 535 civilians have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March.
Ammar Qurabi, who heads the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria, stated authorities were forcing families of the dead to sign documents stating their loved ones were killed by “armed groups.” He added that about 100 people from the Homs region are missing in what could mean they were killed, detained or wounded.
An activist stated authorities have asked families of some of those killed Friday to hold small funerals attended by family members only. Similar orders were given last week, but most people did not abide by them, the activist added. The move appeared to be an attempt by authorities to avoid more bloodshed, with funerals in the past weeks turned into demonstrations.