Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters

Witnesses say widespread demonstrations met with violence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 25, 2011 12:27 PM CDT
Syrian Troops Open Fire on Protesters
Pro-government supporters rally in Damascus, Syria, on Friday.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Syria's unrest is taking a turn for the worse. Violence erupted today as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital, witnesses said. Soldiers shot at demonstrators in the restive southern city of Daraa after crowds set fire to a bronze statue of the country's late president, Hafez Assad, said one resident. Heavy gunfire could be heard in the city center.

An activist reported that one demonstrator was shot dead by security forces in the coastal city of Latakia, and another slain in the central city of Homs. He said several people had been hospitalized in Latakia. In the capital, Damascus, people shouting in support of the Daraa protesters clashed with regime supporters outside the historic Umayyad mosque. The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country, calling for greater freedoms. President Bashar al-Assad offered concessions yesterday, but it did little to satisfy protesters. (More Syria stories.)

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