'Syrian forces kill eight protesters following prayers'

Government security forces open fire on demonstrators after Friday prayers in Deir al-Zor; two killed in Aleppo, one in Homs, three in Damascus suburbs, two more near Turkish border.

Hama residents duck to avoid bullets from Syrian army 311 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Hama residents duck to avoid bullets from Syrian army 311 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMMAN - Syrian security forces shot dead eight protesters during attacks on pro-democracy demonstrations across the country on Friday, the Local Coordination Committees activists' group said.
The organization said it had the names of two protesters killed in Syria's commercial hub of Aleppo, one in the city of Homs, three in suburbs of the capital Damascus and two in the northwestern province of Idlib on the border with Turkey.
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Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces, backed by tanks, stormed several towns this week in Idlib, where protests have intensified.
Syrian forces fired live ammunition at protesters coming out of a main mosque after Friday prayers in the besieged city of Deir al-Zor, witnesses said, as demonstrations against President Bashar Assad resumed elsewhere in the country.
"Military intelligence directed their AK-47s at the mosque, hitting the main air-conditioning unit, which caught fire. The whole neighborhood is echoing with the sound of bullets," said one witness, an engineer who lives near Harwil Mosque.
"Worshipers are running to take cover in alleyways," he said by phone.
A resident of Hama also said protesters came under fire in the central Syrian city. Hama was stormed by the army at the start of the month in an assault which killed more than 100 people, according to activists and rights groups.
British-based activist Rami Abdel Rahman also reported clashes in Hama and said tens of thousands of people were protesting in the city of Homs.
"We will only kneel to God!" chanted protesters.
Syrian authorities have barred most independent media, making it difficult to verify events on the ground in the unrest, among a series of popular revolts against repressive power elites across the Arab world this year.
Assad's forces have intensified assaults on towns and cities across the country since the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan to try to subdue mounting dissent against the ruling family, despite threats of new US sanctions and calls from Turkey and Arab nations to end attacks on dissenting civilians.
Activists said at least 19 people were killed by Syrian forces in raids near the Lebanon border and in the country's Sunni Muslim tribal heartland on Thursday. Assad's family belongs to the minority Alawite sect that dominates Syria.
They say more than 1,700 civilians in all have been killed in the military crackdown on protests against Assad which broke out in March. Syria blames the violence on armed groups, who it says have killed 500 soldiers and police.
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