Thousands Rally in Syria After US Ambassador Visits

Crowds jam the streets of Hama
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2011 1:17 PM CDT
This photo from Syria's official news agency purports to show supporters of President Bashar Assad waving a huge Syrian flag as they show their support for their president, July 6, 2011.   (AP Photo/SANA)

(Newser) – Hundreds of thousands of protesters poured onto the streets of Hama to decry the Assad regime today—right after a visit from US and French ambassadors. The pair came to the city yesterday, and left before protests began today, but their mere presence was a strong symbolic show of support for the protesters, and drew a strong rebuke from Bashar Assad’s regime, the AP reports. At least 13 people have been killed in protests around the country today, say activists.

"People are chanting, 'We only kneel to God,' says one witness in Hama. The city has seen some of the largest crowds since the unrest began, but Assad must tread carefully there. In 1982 the army killed as many as 25,000 there putting down a rebellion on his father’s orders, so a fresh crackdown there would risk inciting even more fervent protests.

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