SYRIA: Many deaths reported as thousands march in ‘Friday of the children of freedom’ protests

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Syrian activist accounts say dozens of people were killed in the central city of Hama on Friday when Syrian military forces and pro-regime loyalists opened fire at a large protest rally against the rule of President Bashar Assad and the Syrian regime’s continued crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators.

A member of the Syrian activist group the Local Coordination Committees in Syria (LCCSyria) told Babylon & Beyond that the group had names of 24 people killed in Friday’s protests in Hama. The Associated Press reported that 34 people were killed in the city on Friday. Snipers were positioned on the rooftops of buildings in various Hama neighborhoods and the death toll was expected to rise, according to activist reports.


LCCSyria also said three people were killed in Rastan on Friday, a town near the central city of Homs, where Syrian military forces have been conducting a military operation during which scores of people reportedly have died since Tuesday.

Thousands of people took to the streets of Syrian cities and towns Friday after the weekly Muslim prayer on a day of protests that activists had dubbed ‘Friday of the children of freedom’ in commemoration of the more than 30 children reported killed in the uprising, according to Syrian activist accounts.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Babylon & Beyond that around 50,000 people had demonstrated in Hama, marking the largest protest there in the uprising and that tens of thousands had participated in protest rallies in Idleb. Syrian activist accounts and amateur video footage said demonstrations took place in the suburbs of Damascus and in rural areas around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, among other places.

In Homs, protesters marched in the streets holding signs saying ‘No dialogue,’ ‘The people want to topple the regime’ and ‘These are the last days of your season, Eggplant!’ in an apparent reference to Assad.

Earlier this week, Assad launched a ‘national dialogue’ and issued a general amnesty for political prisoners -- measures dismissed by opposition activists.

Human rights groups say more than 1,100 people have been killed the start of the uprising in March.



Timeline: Uprising in Syria

-- Los Angeles Times

Video: Syrian protesters chant ‘The people want to topple the regime’ in the area of Houran in southwestern Syria on Friday. Credit: YouTube