Syrian Forces Fire on Mourners
At least one dead in Damascus
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 18, 2012 8:00 AM CST
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun speaks to the media in Damascus, Syria, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Muzaffar Salman)
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(Newser) – Syrian security forces fired live rounds and tear gas at thousands of people marching today in a funeral procession that turned into a protest in Damascus. At least one person was killed, activists said. It was one of the largest demonstrations in the capital since the 11-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began. Several people were reported wounded, and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces dispersed the protesters and were conducting a campaign of raids and arrests in the Mazzeh district.

The fresh violence erupted during a visit by an envoy from China, which along with Russia recently supported Syria by vetoing a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned Assad's regime. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called on all parties to stop violence that has killed more than 5,400 people since March of last year, according to the UN.