2 reported killed as protests spread through Syria

Protesters say pro-Assad forces open fire in Damascus, Deir al-Zor, Deraa; forces kill 7 in Hama, Turkish truck driver north of Damascus.

August 26, 2011 15:04
2 minute read.
Syrian soldiers man tank (illustrative)

Syrian Tank 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fired at protesters after Friday prayers in the Damascus suburb of Douma, as demonstrations flared anew across Syria in a sixth-month-old uprising against his autocratic rule, activists said.

"Protesters phoned in to say that two people have been killed, but this is an initial report still to be confirmed," an activist in Damascus told Reuters by phone.

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Other activists and residents reported protests in cities and towns, many of which have been stormed by tanks, stretching from Deir al-Zor province in the east to Deraa in the south to the northwest province of Idlib.

They said demonstrations also cropped up in large cities such as Hama and Homs along the main highway leading to Turkey, and in districts of the capital Damascus.

"Gaddafi is gone, it is your turn Bashar!" shouted protesters in he town of Hirak northeast of Deraa, buoyed by the apparent overthrow of the Libyan strongman by rebels this week, according to a witness who spoke by phone.

"The (security police) fired in the air to disperse the protest of 2,000. There were no casualties," he said.

Overnight Thursday, forces loyal Assad killed eight people across Syria, activists said, in a sustained campaign to crush street protests against his rule buoyed by the demise of Muammar Gaddafi's power in Libya.

Many of the deaths occurred as a result of attacks on street demonstrations demanding an end to 41 years of Assad family domination that have been breaking out daily after Ramadan prayers that follow the breaking of the fast, they said.

"Congratulations to the Libyan people," read signs carried by protesters who marched at night demanding Assad's removal in the town of Kisweh, south of Damascus.

"God is with us. The revolution is bringing together the free," shouted demonstrators in the resort town of Zabadani, west of the capital and near the border with Lebanon.

The activists said on Friday seven of the protesters were killed in the city of Hama, which has been besieged by the military since the beginning of Ramadan on Aug. 1, in the countryside of Aleppo to the north, in the northwestern province of Idlib and in Homs, hometown of Assad's wife Asma.

"The best response to Assad is the peaceful street protests we are seeing as another Arab autocrat falls in Libya," said dissident Adib Shishakli, grandson of one of Syria's earliest presidents after independence from France in 1946.

The eighth civilian casualty was a Turkish truck driver killed by a pro-Assad militia on the main highway leading to Turkey in the town of Rastan just north of Damascus, which has been scene of daily assaults to end street protests, the activists said.

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