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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mass Syrian protest against Assad regime adds at least 11 More to death toll - 23rd July 2011

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians turned out for anti-regime demonstrations across the country on Friday with at least 11 people reported killed by security forces and tensions mounting in the runup to the Ramadan holiday.

Casualty figures – collated by two Syrian human rights groups – were down on previous weeks but the numbers of demonstrators appeared to be some of the largest yet seen in the four-month uprising.

In Aleppo, Syria's second city, unarmed military cadets were seen marching with civilian protesters and calling for the overthrow of the regime and the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.

Damascus was unusually quiet after large demonstrations closer to the city centre last week but protests were reported from Deir Ezzor in the east to Suweida in the south. All were called to express solidarity with the people of the central city of Homs – the focal point of recent unrest – where some 40 people have been killed in the last few days amid worries of rising sectarian tensions. Five of the latest casualties were killed there.

Amateur video footage posted on the internet showed many thousands gathering after prayers on a day dubbed "Friday of the descendants of Khalid", a reference to a disciple of the prophet Muhammad who unified the Arabian Peninsula in the seventh century and is buried in Homs.

Nearby Hama, scene of a notorious 1982 massacre during the rule of Assad's father Hafez, saw hundreds of thousands in central Assi Square. But there was no visible security presence in the city.

Large protests were also reported for the first time from Aleppo, where one of Friday's fatalities was killed. Syrian TV reported that a civilian had been killed by an "armed gang" – the regime's habitual term for almost all protests.

In Damascus there were signs of a more restrained approach, with security forces firing into the air or using tear gas to prevent trouble spreading. Read More