16 people were killed during protests in several cities in Syria on Wednesday, while the opposition prepares to hold its first public conference in Damascus, according to a report by the channel "al-Arabiya" on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Syrian security agents kidnapped caricature artist, Ali Farzat, attacking and assaulting him in his car as he was on his way home from the office. Farzat is an outspoken critic of the Syrian regime.
According to human rights activists, the city of of Deir ez-Zor was stormed by tanks, by security forces and elements of the Shabiha (militia), who opened heavy fire on the houses. In Jabla, security forces launched a campaign of raids and arbitrary arrests in the neighborhoods of al-Dariba and al-Saliba in conjunction with power outages.
On the political level, the Syrian opposition has decided to convene a constituent assembly in Damascus including various viewpoints. The decision came amid increasing pressure on Syria for its continuing violence against demonstrators.
In an apparent attempt to organize their ranks, sources from the Syrian opposition revealed that the opposition groups decided to hold a national assembly in the Syrian capital, to be attended by about 300 opposition members representing various parts of the spectrum.
The organizers of this conference will attempt, according to a source from the opposition, to make it "public." They have decided to discuss issuing a constituent political statement dealing with the situation in Syria, the current crisis, and ways to transform the political system into a pluralistic, deliberative democracy and the necessary requisites for it. The sources did not preclude involving the foreign opposition in its work.