Syria's Assad seeks to curb prayer protests

AMMAN - Syrian President Bashar Assad's efforts to contain an unprecedented wave of protestsface a key test on Friday, after he unveiled a new cabinet andordered detainees released in a bid to ease tensions.

Assad's measures were unlikely to satisfy many protestersdemanding political freedoms and an end to corruption. Thecabinet has little power and the release of detainees excludedthose who committed crimes "against the nation and citizens".

The official news agency said the releases cover detaineesarrested in the recent wave of protests, but human rightsdefenders said there had been more arrests in the city of Deraaon Thursday.
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