Syrian Opposition Leaders Meet in Turkey

Posted July 16th, 2011 at 5:55 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian opposition figures are holding talks in Turkey Saturday to discuss plans to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Opposition members say a similar meeting planned in Damascus was canceled due to a bloody government crackdown on demonstrators the day before. Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters during some of the largest anti-government protests to date Friday, killing at least 32 people.

At least 23 people were killed in the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs. Security forces also shot dead protesters in the southern city of Daraa, the central city of Homs and the northwestern Idlib province.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators rallied across the country. Some waved large Syrian flags and chanted anti-government slogans.

Witnesses and activists say police responded with live ammunition and tear gas at some rallies Friday, continuing the government's unrelenting crackdown on dissent.

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

Meanwhile, the state-run SANA news agency says pro-government rallies took place in several cities.

Activists had urged citizens to protest against the imprisonment of hundreds of people in the government's crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

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