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Anti-government rallies erupt in Syria over weekend


10:55, March 31, 2012

DAMASCUS, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Anti-government protests erupted in several Syrian areas after Friday prayers, to renew calls for the downfall of the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the opposition Local Coordination Committees (LCC) reportedly said.

During the protests, dubbed as "Arabs and Muslims have let us down," a total of 31 people, including two women and three children, have been killed so far across the country, the LCC said. The reports couldn't be independently verified.

The anti-government protests started a year ago in southern Daraa province with calls for modest reforms, but the protesters' demands have snowballed wanting nothing less that toppling the Assad regime.

The crisis in Syria has grown more militarized as protesters and alleged army defectors took up arms to confront the alleged crackdown by the government forces on opposition protesters. Some Islamist groups also joined the fight against the government.

An al-Qaida-inspired Islamist group known as al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant has recently claimed responsibility for several recent attacks against security and army compounds in Syrian cities, including the suicide bombings two weeks ago that claimed the lives of at least 29 people.

The United Nations said Tuesday the number of people killed since the unrest began in March last year has exceeded 9,000, while the Syrian government blamed the unrest on armed extremists backed by regional and international powers, saying that more than 2,500 army and security personnel have been killed over the yearlong crisis.


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