Activists Call for Friday Protests in Syria

Posted July 15th, 2011 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists have urged citizens to demonstrate Friday against the imprisonment of hundreds of people in the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Activists on the Syrian Revolution Facebook page called for protesters to mark a day of “freedom” for those jailed across the country. Meanwhile, the Associated Press has spoken to rights activists who say thousands are rallying against the government in the country's northeast.

The call to protest comes a day after Syrian rights activists said government forces killed six people and arrested more than 20 others across the nation since Wednesday.

Rights groups said security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in the eastern town of Deir el-Zour on Thursday, killing two people and wounding another five.

Elsewhere, activists say Syrian troops raided pro-opposition villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of northern Syria's Idlib province on Wednesday, killing four people.

In Damascus, Syrian security forces reportedly used batons to break up a protest by Syrian artists and intellectuals and detained least 20 protesters.

There was no independent confirmation of the casualties. Syria does not allow foreign media into flashpoint areas.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been trying to crush a four-month old opposition uprising against his 11-year autocratic rule. He also has made promises of political reforms, but opposition groups have dismissed the offers and demanded an end to the deadly crackdown on their movement.

The United States and European Union have condemned the suppression of the uprising and imposed sanctions on Mr. Assad and his government.

However, the Syrian president has won diplomatic support from the Arab League, whose chief has criticized “foreign interference” in Arab affairs.