Syria city tense as crowds attend protest funerals

March 25, 2011 12:55

DERAA, Syria - Small crowds gathered in the tense Syrian city of Deraa on Friday after calls to attend the funerals of people killed in unprecedented anti-government protests, but there was no immediate sign of protests.

Activists said there was debate among people assembled at Deraa's main Omari mosque whether a rally should be organized following the killing of at least 44 people in a police crackdown on the unrest that erupted a week ago.

"There is a sense of demoralization among the protesters, especially if no other cities in Syria rise up," said a resident of the city in southern Syria near the border with Jordan.

Deraa was on edge but calm before noon prayers as President Bashar al-Assad's loyalists began to organise rallies to counter the rage that engulfed Deraa after the bloodshed that rattled a country in the iron grip of the Baath Party for almost 50 years.

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