Protests reach Damascus
The demonstrations whichwere held in Syria on Friday include several cities across the country. Tens of thousands participated in the rallies, calling for freedom and national unity. According to the official news agency (SANA) that "scattered groups of citizens came out to the streets in several areas of the provinces after Friday prayers and chanted slogans calling for freedom without the intervention of security forces," pointing out that "there have been no riots or sabotage."
The agency quoted its correspondents in the provinces as saying that "most of these gatherings ended after a short time. They were calm and no attacks were reported on public or private property."
On her part, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday called on Syria to cease the repression of demonstrators who oppose the regime. She sspoke in Berlin after a meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO countries: "We call on the Syrian authorities once again to refrain from any use of violence against its people."
"The Syrian government did not meet the legitimate demands of the Syrian people. It is time for the Syrian government to stop its crack down on these people and begin to meet their aspirations. "
Syrian state television broadcast on Thursday evening, scenes of demonstrations which took place in a number of Syrian cities. According to the televised scenes, the demonstrations took place in Lattakia and Deir ez Zor and attended by hundreds of people.
A human rights activist in Damascus, who preferred not to be named, told AFP that "security forces forcibly dispersed about two thousand demonstrators in Douma, Erbeen and Harasta. They were about to enter the capital from the district Jouber located at the northern end of the capital.
The activist added that "the forces dispersed the demonstrators with batons and firied tear gas."
The head of the Syrian Association for Human Rights Abdul Karim Rihawi said that "dozens of people gathered outside a mosque in the neighborhood of Barzeh (in Damascus) at the end of the prayer." He spoke about "a clash between police and demonstrators after the demonstrators threw stones at the police."
In Dara'a, south of the country, which has been the main center for protests, a human rights activist said that "between 2500 and 3000 people demonstrated in the courtyard of the Grand Serail on the center of city, chanting slogans against the regime."
In the north-eastern part of Syria, where the majority of the residents are Kurd, demonstrations were held in several cities. Human rights activist Hussein Berro, told AFP that "more than five thousand people came out to demonstrate in Qamishli (680 kms northwest of Damascus).
In Homs, central Syria, a human rights activist said that "about 4000 took part in the demonstration after Friday prayers. He added that "security forces intervened about an hour after the outbreak of the demonstration, and dispersed the demonstrators with batons."
In the coastal city of Banias (280 kms northwest of Damascus), which saw bloody days in the past week, about 1500 people gathered outside the mosque of Abu Bakr after the prayers. In Lattakia, Syria's main port, some 1000 people gathered in the center of the city, demanding freedoms.