Syria Deploys Forces in Damascus Ahead of Planned Protests

Posted July 22nd, 2011 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian rights activists say the military has deployed security forces in the capital, Damascus, Friday ahead of planned anti-government protests.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said army elements set up checkpoints and carried out patrols in Qaboun and Rukneddine neighborhoods.

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 President Bashar al-Assad's government. At least 23 of those people were killed in the capital and its suburbs.

On Thursday, Syrian forces used tanks and other weaponry as they intensified their crackdown on anti-government protesters in the central city of Homs.

Residents and activists say Syrian tanks moved to block off neighborhoods as government forces conducted raids and made arrests.

Syrian rights activists and witnesses say pro-government forces have killed at least 20 people in Homs since Monday, including seven mourners at a funeral.

The city is a center of recent protests against President Assad.

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.