Syrian Forces Kill 9 After Friday Prayers
Syrian forces loyal to embattled President Bashar al-Assad opened fire killing at least nine demonstrators Friday in the town of Kiswah south of Damascus, Gulf News reports.
"Demonstrators left the mosque after Friday prayers and marched for a few minutes until security forces opened fire to disperse them, killing five people and wounding six others," rights activist Mohammad Enad Sulaiman told reporters.
Assad's repressive tactics have become the norm in Syria since protests erupted in the southern city of Daraa thirteen weeks ago. Human rights groups say the death toll in Syria has topped 1,000 and that thousands more have been rounded-up and detained by Syrian authorities.
US Warns Syria Over Turkish Border Buildup
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Syria to withdraw troops now massing near its border with Turkey, saying their presence is worsening an already bad situation for refugees and risks sparking border clashes with the Turks, but did not couple her warning with material steps the US would take if Assad did not listen.
Clinton told reporters Thursday the US saw the situation as volatile and "very worrisome" and that the Syria military should immediately end attacks and provocations in the region.
The buildup of soldiers several hundred metres from the Turkish border was another sign of the Syrian government's intent to repress its own people, Clinton explained.
The Syrian buildup appears to be intended to stanch the flow of Syrian refugees into Turkey amidst continuing unrest. Turkey, dealing with the influx of refugees, has become increasingly adamant Assad make rapid reforms.
Protests Persistent, Wide-Spread
Tens of housands of protesters demonstrated across Syria after Friday afternoon Muslim prayers calling Assad's ouster in response to a call by the Facebook group Syrian Revolution 2011, one of the motors of the protests operating under the banner, "Fall of legitimacy".
"Tell the world Bashar is without legitimacy," shouted several thousand protesters in the Damascus suburb of Irbin.
In the central cities of Homs and Hama protesters shouted "the people want the downfall of the regime," while in Deraa, the cradle of the uprising, protesters carried banners rejecting a vague promise of dialogue made by Assad in a speech this week.
Similar protests erupted on the coast, and in the eastern provinces of Qamishli and Deir Al Zor, on the border with Iraq's Sunni heartland.