Thousands Protest in Syria During Observers' Visit
Human rights group puts crowd at 70,000
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 27, 2011 5:12 PM CST
A video grab shows a Syrian tank driving through the city of Homs on December 26.   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Tens of thousands of defiant Syrian protesters thronged the streets of Homs today, calling for the execution of President Bashar Assad shortly after his army pulled its tanks back and allowed Arab League monitors into the city at the heart of the anti-government uprising. The pullback was the first sign the regime was complying with the League's plan to end the 9-month-old crackdown on mostly unarmed and peaceful protesters. Amateur videos show residents of Homs pleading with the visiting monitors for protection.

The Observatory for Human Rights said tens of thousands of protesters gathered in neighborhoods to "reveal the crimes committed by the regime." Later, the Observatory said some 70,000 protesters tried to enter the tightly secured Clock Square but were pushed back by security forces that fired tear gas and later live bullets, killing at least two, to prevent them from reaching the city's largest square. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said security forces were shooting at protesters trying to reach the central square.