Syria Makes Concessions, but Protesters Unswayed

Foes call for mass demonstrations tomorrow
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 24, 2011 4:22 PM CDT
Syria Makes Concessions, but Protesters Unswayed
The media adviser to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Buthaina Shaaban, speaks during a press conference in Damascus Thursday.   (AP Photo/ Bassem Tellawi)

The Syrian government pledged today to consider lifting some of the Mideast's most repressive laws in an attempt to stop a week-long uprising in a southern city from spreading and threatening its nearly 50-year rule. The promises were immediately rejected by many activists who called for demonstrations around the country tomorrow in response to a crackdown that protesters say killed dozens of anti-government marchers in the city of Daraa.

The protesters have persisted through seven days of increasing violence by security forces, but have not inspired significant unrest in other parts of the country. The next few days are expected to be crucial in determining whether the protests reach Egypt-like levels. President Bashar Assad, a close ally of Iran, today offered increased freedoms for citizens and increased pay and benefits for state workers. Syria's state TV said Assad also ordered the release of all detainees in connection with the unrest. (More Syria stories.)

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