LIAM STACK and J. DAVID GOODMAN
April 8, 2011
CAIRO — Security forces countered a rising tide of unrest in Syria on Friday with tear gas, batons and live ammunition as more than 10,000 protesters took to the streets of several cities in a third week of protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, according to witnesses and activists reached by telephone.
In the southern city of Dara’a, chants of “Peaceful, peaceful!” rose through clouds of tear gas as security forces on a central bridge tried to keep two groups of thousands of protesters from joining together, a resident said, speaking in return for anonymity to avoid reprisals.
Security forces then opened fire on the protesters, killing “more than 10,” according to the resident, who spoke by telephone. “There are martyrs in the street,” he said frantically before his line went dead. Syrian state television confirmed several deaths but said “rogue elements” within the protest had fired on security forces, Bloomberg News reported.
In the Damascus suburb of Douma, thousands filled a main square, ringing a central mosque. “The crowds in Douma are huge,” said Wissam Tarif, executive director of Insan, a Syrian human rights group, who was in the town early Friday morning. The latest demonstrations came a week after at least 15 protesters died in clashes with security forces in Douma; security forces appeared to hold back on Friday. Protest organizers had called for demonstrations against Mr. Assad’s administration in several provinces in what they dubbed a “Friday of Steadfastness.”
This article was posted: Friday, April 8, 2011 at 8:25 am