BEIRUT - Syrian security forces used tear gas on Friday to disperse protesters as hundreds of thousands massed in cities across the country in some of the largest protests seen in the nine-month uprising against President Bashar Assad.
Activists said they were aiming to show Arab League monitors the level of popular dissent. The observers arrived in Syria this week to assess whether Damascus had halted violence against protesters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 250,000 people were on the streets of Idlib after Friday prayers. Activists in Hama and the Damascus suburb of Douma said tens of thousands of people were protesting. Al Jazeera television showed live footage of what appeared to be tens of thousands of protests in a district of Homs.
The Observatory said protesters hurled stones at security forces in Douma. At least 24 people were wounded.
Syria has banned foreign journalists and Reuters is unable to verify the accuracy of these reports.