A total of eight protesters were killed Friday as anti-government demonstrations spread throughout the country. Three
protesters were shot dead as live fire was used to disperse
hundreds of protesters in the Qatana suburb east of the capital
Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Earlier on Friday, Syrian security forces killed four protesters in the southern town of Daal as demonstrations demanding the
removal of President Bashar Assad swept the area, residents and
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An additional protester was killed in an incident near the Lebanon border. In the city of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, protesters burned pictures of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, whose speech in Beirut this week in support of Assad
infuriated demonstrators, activists and a tribal leader in the province
told Reuters by phone, adding security forces had withdrawn from the
streets of Albu Kamal.
Foreign correspondents are barred from Syria and witness reports are hard to verify independently.
said on Wednesday most Syrians still backed President Bashar Assad and
the removal of his regime on the back of mass unrest would serve US
and Israeli interests.
The Syrian and Iranian-backed ally said he believed Assad was serious
about making reforms, in response to pro-democracy protests that have
gripped the country for nine weeks and which have presented the gravest
challenge to Assad's 11-year rule.
"All indications and information until now still affirm that the
majority of the Syrian people support this regime and have faith in
President Bashar Assad and are betting on his steps towards reforms,"
Nasrallah said in his first comments on Syria since protests broke out
"I personally believe ... based on discussions and directly listening to
President Bashar Assad that he believes in reforms and is serious and
committed ... and is ready to take very big steps towards reforms," he
told a crowd in the southern Lebanese town of Nabi Sheet by video link,
on the 11th anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from south Lebanon.
Syrian protesters, inspired by popular uprisings in other parts of the
Arab world, initially took to the streets to call for greater freedoms
and an end to corruption.
Assad made some gestures towards reforms, including lifting a hated
decades-old emergency law, while also sending in tanks to crush revolts
in flashpoints across the country.
Met with a violent crackdown by Syrian security forces -- human rights
group Sawasiah said at least 1,100 civilians have been killed --
demonstrators have demanded Assad's overthrow.
Nasrallah, who had praised popular uprisings that overthrew the leaders
of Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, said the fall of the Syrian
government would serve American and Israeli interests since it would be
replaced by a regime "ready to sign any peace, meaning surrender, with
Human rights activists and witnesses say Syrian security forces, the
army and irregular Assad loyalists, have opened fire on peaceful
protesters. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed groups backed
by Islamists and outside powers.