Deaths in Syria as protests continue
Several reported killed in anti-government rallies as security forces respond with live rounds, tear gas and batons.
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2011 15:26
Several deaths have been reported in another day of anti-government protests in several Syrian cities, activists have said.
Protest marches against Baath Party rule broke out in cities in the north and south after Friday prayers, including in the flashpoint city of Daraa.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in and around the capital, Damascus, on Friday afternoon as security forces and ruling party loyalists attacked protesters with batons in Rifaii mosque in the city.
Syrian forces reportedly fired tear gas at protesters in the suburb of Douma, and in the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias.
Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Damascus, said at least four people were killed in the afternoon after government forces started using live fire against protesters in Douma.
"Some protesters told us they were there chanting for freedom peacefully," she said.
"The security forces in plain clothes tried to disperse them with sticks ... people started running into the alleys, and then the security forces started shooting at them."
Our correspondent said at least four people were killed and 30 injured in the village of Sanamin, besieged by the Syrian army, when people from nearby villages were barred from paying their respects to those killed earlier in the week.
For the first time, the government acknowledged there were pro-reform demonstrations in cities, but said there was no friction between security forces and protesters.
Syria's SANA news agency said worshippers left mosques in Daraa and Latakia "chanting slogans in honour of the martyr and calling for speeding up measures for reform".
"There were no clashes between worshippers and security forces in these gatherings," the agency said.
Witnesses in Daraa, a southern town that has been one of the main focal points of rising dissent, said hundreds gathered after leaving a mosque shouting "death rather than humiliation" and "national unity".