Damascus, Aug 5: At least 10 people were shot dead as thousands of Syrians took to the streets to rally against President Bashar al-Assad on the first Friday of Ramazan in support of the protest hub of Hama, activists said.
“Seven people were killed in Irbin, another in Maadamiya (both towns near the capital) and two in Homs,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told AFP by telephone, adding many others were wounded by gunfire.
Meanwhile, state news agency SANA said two members of the security forces were killed and eight wounded in an ambush on a road in the Idlib region of northwest Syria, near the Turkish border.
And gunmen on an apartment block rooftop in Duma, near Damascus, shot and wounded two other members of the security forces, it said, while assailants also opened fire in Homs.
Communications were completely cut off as the army stepped up an operation to crush dissent in Hama, north of Damascus, where security forces killed at least 30 civilians and wounded dozens more earlier in the week.
“Thousands of demonstrators marched in Deir Ezzor, Daraa and Qamishli in support of the city of Hama despite the extreme heat,” said Abdel Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights.
He said they numbered 30,000 in Deir Ezzor alone.
“More than 12,000 people” also marched in Bench, in Idlib province, “to demand the fall of the regime and express their support for Hama and Deir Ezzor,” according to Abdel Rahman.
“Hundreds of people came out of the Al-Mans Uri mosque in Jablah, chanting ‘God is with us,'” he told AFP.
The call for Friday's protests came from activists on Facebook group The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving force behind the demonstrations calling for greater freedoms since mid-March.
The Assad regime has sought to crush the democracy movement with brutal force, killing more than 1,600 civilians and arresting thousands of dissenters, rights activists say. AFP