Syria's Assad seeks to curb prayer protests

AMMAN - Syrian President Bashar Assad's efforts to contain an unprecedented wave of protests

face a key test on Friday, after he unveiled a new cabinet and
ordered detainees released in a bid to ease tensions.

Assad's measures were unlikely to satisfy many protesters

demanding political freedoms and an end to corruption. The
cabinet has little power and the release of detainees excluded
those who committed crimes "against the nation and citizens".
The official news agency said the releases cover detainees
arrested in the recent wave of protests, but human rights
defenders said there had been more arrests in the city of Deraa
on Thursday.