Syrian security forces have clamped down on student dissent at Aleppo University, one of several sites where demonstrators have gathered recently to protest government policy.
Seven people were killed in the action, including six students. An opposition group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, claims that an additional 28 people were wounded and 200 students were arrested.
Soldiers also fired at the hospital where the wounded were taken, leading to more casualties, said Mohammad Hareitan, 25, a student at the university. It was unclear how many more people were wounded in that attack.
Rafif Jouejati, spokeswoman for the opposition group Local Coordination Committees of Syria, said that security forces were now targeting any sign of dissent, including students sitting quietly on the ground. The Syrian government has, however, restricted access of the international media so confirmation of the treatment students are receiving and the death toll is impossible to obtain.
The regime, she said, typically has reacted to student demonstrators by surrounding the campus where they have been protesting, arresting a few students and beating them up, she said. Now, they are "stepping up the brutality" by firing tear gas and live ammunition, she said. At Aleppo, one person died after security tossed him from a window.
Students have been staging protests since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, but numbers have increased lately as they started to feel less fear. The latest brutal assault can be considered an escalation in response to the increasing protestor number as a measure to re-instill some degree of fear. The reported attack on Apello comes in violation of a cease-fire agreement that went into effect last month as a precursor to a UN negotiated peace plan.
The United Nations estimates that 9,000 people have died in the conflict so far. It mirrors that of Libya and Egypt as the nations people rise up against an oppressive dictatorship. President Bashar al-Assad's family has ruled Syria for 42 years and so far he shows no inclination to step aside.
Students at the American University of Beirut have been holding a demonstration as a show of solidarity for their Syrian counterparts. Aleppo University's website says that the school will be closed unto exams start on May 13 âdue to the current situation'.