DAMASCUS- President Bashar Assad dismissed the governor of the key central city of Hama on Saturday after one of the largest protest gatherings to demand to topple the regime.
President Bashar al-Assad issued on Saturday Decree No. 241 on discharging Dr. Ahmad Khaled Abdul-Aziz from his post as governor of Hama.
Within the past three months, President al-Assad issued two decrees discharging governors of Daraa and Homs, Fayssal Kulthoum and Mohammad Eyad Ghazal.
The sacking of Ahmad Khaled Abdel Aziz was announced by Syria State TV on Saturday, a day after more than 400,000 people reportedly turned out in Hama city demanding the ouster of Assad and his government.
On Friday, People in Hama filled the square around the central Clock Tower in what activists said was the biggest demonstration since the uprising began in March.
The move, announced by the state-run news agency SANA, was seen as the latest attempt by Assad to weed out potential weak links in his ruling system and possibly signal a renewed crackdown on the city.
SANA's report gave no reason for the firing of Gov. Ahmed Abdul-Aziz a day after an estimated 300,000 people joined an anti-government rally in Hama — marking the largest single turnout since the uprising began in March.
Crowd estimates and other details cannot be independently verified. The Syrian government has banned most foreign media from the country and restricted coverage.
Syrian forces withdrew from the city last month after clashes that left at least 65 dead. Some protest organizers now worry that the sacking of the governor could be the prelude for government troops to push back into the city — which carries important symbolism as a center of resistance, according to AP.
Beirut-based activist, Omar Idilbi, told AP that Hama governor was respected by residents for trying to avoid further bloodshed. Idilbi said he feared the governor's sacking would now unleash security forces to try crush demonstrators.