Five dead in Syrian anti-government protests
At least five demonstrators were killed in clashes with police in Daraa, Syria, witnesses said Friday, with dozens more opponents of the government injured, dpa reported.
The demonstration was the latest of a growing number in the past three days, as the uprisings and unrest that spread from Tunisia to Egypt to Bahrian and Libya appear to have reached Syria, one of the most tightly-controlled societies in the Middle East.
An estimated 7,000 anti-government protestors took to the streets of cities such as Homs, Aleppo, Deir al-Zor and Daraa, as well as the capital, Damascus, where demonstrators gathered at the legendary Umayyad Mosque in the old city.
They chanted "Freedom Freedom," "God Is Great," "No To Corruption" and "Peaceful, Peaceful."
Dozens of activists had been arrested at the previous rallies. Criticising the regime or calling for greater freedoms and human rights can result in lengthy prison sentences in Syria.
The government, under President Bashar al-Assad, has close ties to Iran and to the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, but more tense relations with other Arab states.