Fresh anti-government protests hit Syria

11:57, July 16, 2011      

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Hundreds of people took to the streets on Friday in several Syrian cities for fresh anti- government protests, according to the state TV.

Protests erupted on Friday after noon prayers in several cities, including northern cities of Hasaka and Qamishly, the central province of Homs, and the southern province of Daraa, the state TV said, adding some of the protests were dispersed in a short time.

Army unites and security forces interfered to protect the protestors in Daraa from armed groups who were trying to infiltrate between the protesters to stir chaos, the TV said, disputing what was broadcasted earlier on the Doha-based al- Jazeera TV that army units in Daraa are protecting protestors from the security forces.

The TV said that armed groups, nesting on rooftops, opened fire on police patrols in al-Qaboun and Ruken al-Dein areas in Damascus.

Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera cited witnesses as saying thousands of anti-government protesters streamed into the streets Friday after Muslims' noon prayers in several towns and cities across Syria, including, Homs, Hama, Daraa, Der al-Zour, and Hama, calling for freedom and the downfall of the leadership.

Al-Jazeera said the Syrian security forces fired tear gas on protestors in al-Midan and Ruken al-Dein neighborhoods in Damascus, adding that thousands are pouring the streets of the central province of Hama, which has been the focal point of protests, and has drawn the largest crowds since the eruption of the unrest four months ago.

The Daha based TV said also that four people were killed in Deir al-Zour province in northeastern Syria, however the state TV denied the report as "false and baseless."

Syria has been in unrest since mid March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Daraa and spread to other cities. The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on "armed groups and foreign conspiracy" and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated the people and damaged public and private properties.

The Syrian government said 1,200 members of the security forces and army personnel had died since the eruption of the protests, while, according to activists, more than 1,600 civilians have died and some 10,000 have been detained.

Source: Xinhua
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