Protesters fired upon in Syria
Damascus, Mar 28: Syrian security forces fired tear gas on thousands of protesters today in a restive southern city as President Bashar Assad faced down the most serious unrest of his 11 years in power with a bloody, weeklong crackdown.
Assad was expected to address the nation as early as tomorrow to try to ease the crisis by lifting a nearly 50-year state of emergency and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms.
Syria has been rocked by more than a week of demonstrations that began in the drought-parched agricultural city of Daraa and exploded nationwide on Friday, with security forces opening fire on demonstrators in at least six locations. The death toll was at least 61 since March 18, according to Human Rights Watch.
The eyewitness in Daraa said up to 4,000 people were protesting there today, calling for more political freedoms. He said security forces fired tear gas at the crowd and live ammunition in the air to disperse them.
The witness spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Syrian TV denied troops had fire on the demonstrators. In the country's main port city of Latakia, armed groups appeared to be facing off and threatening an escalation in violence.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Mar 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 28 Mar 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 29 Mar 2011 00:00:00 IST
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