Syrian Opposition Seeks ‘No Fly’ Zone

Posted October 28th, 2011 at 1:19 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian opposition activists have urged protesters to rally for a “no fly” zone on Friday.

The activists made the call on social media sites, saying the flight restrictions are needed to help protect civilians from government forces.

Activists say at least eight people were killed in confrontations with Syrian security forces on Thursday. They say some of the deaths occurred as forces carried out raids in the southern Daraa region. They also say deadly clashes erupted in central Syria between the army and suspected deserters.

Also Thursday, thousands of supporters of President Bashar al-Assad rallied in the coastal city of Latakia, where some waved Syrian flags and chanted pro-government slogans. A similar demonstration took place in Damascus on Wednesday.

For months, anti-government protesters have been calling for Mr. Assad's departure. The 22-member Arab League is trying to facilitate dialogue between government and the opposition's newly formed Syrian National Council.

Mr. Assad met with an Arab League delegation on Wednesday. Syrian state media quoted the head of the delegation, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr al-Thani, as saying the talks were “cordial and frank.” He said Arab officials will meet again with Mr. Assad on October 30.

The Syrian president has been facing growing international condemnation for his crackdown. The United Nations says the death toll has topped 3,000 during seven months of anti-government protests.

The Syrian government says armed gangs and “terrorists” are responsible for the majority of the violence.