Azerbaijan, Baku, March 18 /Trend/
Plain-clothes Syrian police broke up a protest after Friday prayers at the main mosque in central Damascus, dragging away at least two activists, AFP reporters witnessed.
"There is no God but God," a crowd inside the men's section of the Omayyed Mosque started chanting in crescendo after Friday prayers. It was unclear what had sparked the chants.
Dozens of security forces, who had gathered outside the mosque during the prayers, pulled out batons as soon as the chants broke out and detained at least two people, dragging away one who resisted while beating him with batons and kicking him in the nose, Al Arabiya reports.
At least 200 people immediately gathered in a square outside the mosque, chanting support for President Bashar al-Assad and waving Syrian flags. Some carried portraits of his late father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad.
Terrified families could be seen fleeing the square, with many children in tears.
A Facebook group named The Syrian Revolution 2011 had called for demonstrations after Friday prayer in Damascus during a "Day of Dignity."
Small impromptu protests have erupted for three days in a row in the Old City of Damascus, demanding political reforms in the Middle Eastern country.
On Thursday, Syrian authorities charged 32 activists with attacking the reputation of the state, a day after a rally outside the interior ministry, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The protesters, including rights activist Suhair Atassi, were detained on Wednesday at a Damascus rally organized by the relatives of political prisoners to petition for their release.
Human Rights Watch has called for the release of all detained demonstrators, and independently confirmed that 18 people had been taken into custody.
Participants in Wednesday's rally said 34 activists had been detained by authorities in Syria, which is still under a 1963 emergency law that bans demonstrations.