Protesters in Syrian city of Homs 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters)
AMMAN - Syrian security forces fired tear gas on Friday to disperse a pro-democracy protest in the historic Midan district of Damascus while thousands demonstrated in the southern city of Deraa and called for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad's regime.
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"The 'amn' (security) fired the tear gas from a flyover overlooking Midan. They were over 2,000 protesters and now hundreds have re-grouped," the witness told Reuters by phone as the chant "the people want the overthrow of the regime" was audible in the background.
'Bloodbath' would follow overthrow of Assad in Syria'
In addition, several thousand people demonstrated in Deraa, also calling for the "overthrow of the regime" of Assad, witnesses said.
The protests, in the city which saw the outbreak of Syria's five-week-old popular demonstrations, came a day after Assad lifted a draconian state of emergency which had been in place for nearly 50 years -- one of the key demands of the protesters.
Activists coordinating mass protests against Assad's authoritarian rule demanded the abolition of Baath Party monopoly on power and the establishment of a democratic political system.
In the first joint statement since protests erupted five weeks ago, the
Local Coordination Committees, representing provinces across Syria, said
"freedom and dignity slogans cannot be achieved except through peaceful
"All prisoners of conscience must be freed. The existing security
apparatus has to be dismantled and replaced by one with with specific
jurisdiction and which operates according to law," said the joint
statement, which was sent to Reuters.