May 22, 2013
Syrian security forces clamp down on Damascus
Police and militia patrols fanned out in the Syrian capital's Mezze district to prevent a repeat of protests against President Bashar al-Assad that have threatened his grip on Damascus, opposition activists said.
On the international front, China said it believed a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis was still possible but Britain's foreign minister said he feared the Middle Eastern country will slide into civil war.
China's official Xinhua news agency reflected Beijing's view a day after a Chinese envoy met Assad in Damascus while thousands of Syrians demonstrated in the heart of the capital in one of the biggest anti-government rallies there since a nationwide uprising started nearly a year ago.
Sunday, the body of Samer al-Khatib, a young protester who was killed when security forces opened fire on the protest, was buried in Mezze early in the morning.
Security forces maintained a heavy presence to prevent the funeral from turning into an anti-Assad demonstration, opposition activists contacted by Reuters from Amman said.
Fifteen pick-up trucks carrying security police and armed pro-Assad militiamen, known as 'shabbiha', surrounded the funeral as Khatib was buried quietly, they said.
Police cars and militia jeeps patrolled Mezze while secret police agents spread out on foot, stopping men at random and checking their identification cards, they said.
"Walking in Mezze now carries the risk of arrest. The area is quiet and even the popular food shops in Sheikh Saad are empty," activist Moaz al-Shami said, referring to a main street.