Crowds of Anti-Government Activists Swelling in Syria

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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Crowds of Syrian protesters renewed calls for President Bashar al-Assad's resignation on Friday, gathering in big numbers throughout the country.

Witnesses and activists say hundreds of people took to the streets on Friday in towns in the northeastern Hasaka province, a mostly Kurdish region. Reuters news agency says Syrian security forces used batons and tear gas to push back demonstrators in at least one town.

Protesters are also rallying in some suburbs of the capital, Damascus, where the military deployed security forces earlier in the week.

News reports say demonstrations have also occurred in the flashpoint city of Homs, where the military launched a massive crackdown this week.

There are reports of protests growing in other locales.

On Thursday, residents and activists said tanks moved into Homs to block off neighborhoods as government forces conducted raids and made arrests.

Last Friday, at least 32 people were killed after Syrian security forces opened fire on tens of thousands of demonstrators during some of the largest protests to date against Mr. Assad's government.

It is difficult to verify accounts of the violence in Syria because its government has barred foreign media from reporting and traveling freely in the country.