Thousands demand overthrow of Syria's president at funeral of protesters (VIDEO)


Syrian nationals living in Jordan shout slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman on April 17, 2011 as Syria was hit by new anti-regime protests.


Khalil Mazraawi

Thousands of people mourning eight protesters killed in Syria demanded the removal of President Bashar al-Assad on Monday after a promised end to emergency rule failed to halt protests.

The eight activists were killed late Sunday when Syrian security forces fired on protesters attending the funeral of others killed during demonstrations against Assad's government.

Month-long protests calling for greater freedoms in Syria continued over the weekend despite pledges by Assad on Saturday to make reforms and end a 48-year-old emergency law.

"From alleyway to alleyway, from house to house, we want to overthrow you, Bashar," mourners chanted at Monday's mass funeral in the central city of Homs, Reuters said.

Witnesses said tanks and soldiers wearing combat gear had been deployed against increasingly hostile protests on Sunday, Syria's independence day.

Al Jazeera said the situation in Homs was "very tense" with people injured in demonstrations unwilling to seek medical help for fear security forces will seize them from hospital beds.

"There is also a shortage of blood according to the people we have been talking to," the broadcaster's Damascus correspondent Rula Amin said.

She said there were also rising tensions in the nearby town of Talbiseh where the government claims gunmen had set up a roadblock on the main road.

"When security forces went to control the situation they were attacked by gunmen, one policeman was killed and another one injured, and three gunmen killed," she said.

In his speech to parliament on Saturday, Assad -- who blamed the protests on a "conspiracy" said the Syria's Draconian emergency law could be repealed within a week.

But opposition figures say they believe any replacement legislation would likely retain severe restrictions on political freedoms.

A report in the Washington Post citing cables supplied by anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, claimed the U.S. State Department has secretly financed Syrian opposition groups.

The paper said Washington also funded a London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, which launched in 2009 but has stepped up operations to cover the Syrian protests.