Conflict & Justice

Syria Protests after Friday Prayers

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Protest in Deraa in April (flickr image: Syriana 2011)

By Ben Gilbert

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There were new anti-government protests in Syria Friday. Demonstrators took to the streets in several cities, including the capital Damascus. Once again, there were reports of protesters killed as government troops moved to stop the demonstrations.

Also Friday, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that as many as 850 people have been killed since the unrest in Syria began nearly two months ago.

And there's no sign that the protests will end anytime soon. Videos made the rounds on YouTube Friday, allegedly showing the latest demonstrations.

There weren't huge crowds, but the few thousand people who showed up at demonstrations around the country sent a clear message to the Syrian President.

"With our souls, with our blood, we will die for you Deraa," the protestors chanted. Deraa is the village in Syria's south where protests began in mid March.

In Syria's third largest city of Homs, an activist who goes by the pseudonym "Sara" for security reasons, said around 5,000 protestors came out despite heavy security presence in some parts of the city.

"This time they didn't shoot, they had a new strategy," she said. "They went between the people, and they started walking over the people in their cars. We have so many people injured because of this and so many arrested people."

Sara said sometimes ambulances weren't allowed to reach the wounded. In other cases, ambulances were used like Trojan horses by the government forces.

"In some of the areas, security forces were in the ambulance, and go pretending to help the injured people, and they would arrest them," Sara said. "So now we are taking them to our houses."

Sara said the security forces did open fire on protestors in other parts of the city Friday, despite statements from senior Syrian officials saying that this would be prohibited.

The protestors say they're sick of hearing promises for reform, and want the president and his government to step down.

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