Syrian president sacks governor on third day of protests
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sacked the governor of the southern city of Daraa on Sunday, in a bid to restore calm to the area amidst ongoing anti-government protests, dpa reported.
Assad removed Faisal Kolthoum from his post "based on the requests by Daraa residents that he be removed for fatal errors while handling protests in the area," state news agency SANA reported.
Five protesters were killed in Daraa on Friday in clashes with security forces.
Government officials visited the city to offer condolences to the families of the victims. Several people detained during the protest were released, according to state media.
A witness in Daraa told the German Press Agency dpa that 15 students who were arrested on Friday were released, in a move aimed at easing tension in the city.
Meanwhile, thousands of anti-government protesters gathered in the city for a third day. They chanted "We want freedom," and urged people in other parts of the country to take to the streets.
Tribesmen in the southwestern district of al-Quneitera, near the border with Israel, announced in an audio message released on the internet that they had joined "the honourable uprising against the current regime."
On Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets in the capital Damascus and the cities of Homs, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor.
Some demanded greater freedoms and an end to emergency law in the country, and others called for the government to step down.
Inspired by anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, Syrian activists are using Facebook and Twitter to organize demonstrations in the country, which has been ruled by the Baath Party since 1963.
Assad has been president since 2000, a post he inherited from his father, Hafez al-Assad.