Tens of thousands of activists took to the streets of Aleppo and Idlib on Friday, braving the gunfire of Syrian troops, as at least 28 people were killed across the country.
The latest violence came as UN envoy Kofi Annan, who brokered a repeatedly-violated ceasefire last month, finalized plans to return to Damascus.
AFP reported that for the first time in the region, helicopter gunships fired on rebel-controlled mountain villages in the Latakia area of northwestern Syria, near the Turkish border, wounding at least 20 people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP that at least four policemen were killed in clashes with rebels in Kansebba, in the same area.
The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, said that for the second consecutive Friday “tens of thousands of people marched in Aleppo city and province,” calling for regime change.
Syrian troops fired on the protesters in the northern city with live rounds and tear gas, killing at least one and wounding dozens, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Last Friday, Syrian forces fired on protesters holding the largest opposition marches yet in Aleppo, Syria’s biggest city that had largely remained supportive of President Bashar Assad throughout the 15-month uprising.
Anti-regime protests in Aleppo have been growing since a raid on dormitories at Aleppo University on May 3 killed four students and forced the temporary closure of the state-run school.
Meanwhile on Friday in the northwestern Idlib province, tens of thousands also marched in the rebel-held localities of Maaret al-Numan, Saraqe, Kafrnoubol, Hass and Sarge, Abdel Rahman told AFP. In the southern Daraa province, troops also fired on demonstrators, several of whom were wounded.
Kofi Annan, who brokered the six-point peace plan, is to travel to Syria “soon” as he continues efforts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said.
“We have almost finalized the date,” Fawzi told AFP, without giving further details for security reasons.
More than 12,600 people have been killed in Syria in the 14-month-old revolt against Assad's rule, including nearly 1,500 since the UN-backed truce was to come into effect, according to Observatory figures.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)