Anti-government protests spread in Syrian south

Syrian army deploys to stop protests in Deraa as demonstrations begin in Jassem; five killed in clashes to date.

March 21, 2011 16:14
1 minute read.
Syrians shout anti-gov't slogans at Deraa funeral

Syrian Funeral Protest 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Hundreds of people demonstrated against the Syrian government in the town of Jassem on Monday, activists said, as unrest spread in southern Syria.

"They are staging a sit-in the center of the town," one of the activists said.

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The Syrian army deployed on Monday at the entrances to the southern city of Deraa as officials tried to calm passions following protests for freedom in which five civilians were killed, residents said.

Thousands of mourners marched at the funeral of 23-year-old Raed al-Kerad who died on Sunday, the latest of five protesters to be killed by security forces. Mourners chanted slogans demanding political freedom and an end to corruption.

"God, Syria, freedom. The people want the overthrow of corruption," they chanted.

The slogan is a play on the words "the people want the overthrow of the regime," the rallying cry of the revolutions that overthrew the entrenched leaders of Tunisia and Egypt and spread across the Arab world.

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The mourners later gathered at the al-Omari mosque in the old quarter of Deraa near the border with Jordan.

Troops set up checkpoints at the entrances of Deraa and were checking identity cards. The Syrian justice minister arrived at a city hall.

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