Protesters fill streets in Syria; 29 killed
DAMASCUS TENS of thousands of Syrian protesters took to the streets on Friday under fire from regime forces, who pressed their campaign to pound rebel cities into submission, activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 29 people were killed, including 11 in the flashpoint central province of Homs and the same number in the Aleppo region of northern Syria.
The latest violence came a day after another 77 people were reported killed and international envoy Kofi Annan spoke of “alarming” casualties despite the regime accepting an April 10 deadline to withdraw forces from protest hubs. Fresh anti-regime rallies were also held in Kurdish areas of northern Syria, in the eastern Deir Ezzor province, and in Idlib province, which lies on the border with Turkey, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the British-based Observatory.
Ankara urged the United Nations and international community to reinforce efforts to aid Syrian refugees after a record 2,800 people poured across the border in less than two days, taking the number in Turkey to 23,835.
An activist on the ground, Dib al Dimashki, told AFP in Beirut by telephone that several marches were also held in districts of Damascus, including Midan, Issali and Mazzeh.
On its Facebook page, the Syrian Revolution 2011 activist group had urged Syrians to demonstrate in favour of arming anti-regime rebels.
The Local Coordination Committees group said security forces shot at demonstrators in Douma, north of Damascus, in the central city of Hama and in Idlib.
Large demonstrations were also reported in southern Daraa province, cradle of the revolt.
The Observatory reported fierce battles in the villages of Al Tiba, Al Qabu and Shniyeh in Homs province. The clashes erupted after loyalist militias opened fire on seven women, killing two and wounding four. It said regime forces were pounding districts of Homs city and Rastan to the north, with searches under way in Damascus suburbs after a night of clashes with deserters.