Syrian authorities say they will confront those sowing discord

Syrian authorities say they will confront those sowing discord

The Syrian Interior Ministry said Saturday it will face down what it described as "armed groups" firing on demonstrators and inciting strife in the country, DPA reported.

"We will not allow (acts of) sabotage ... and harming national unity and destabilizing the foundations of Syrian policy," said the ministry in a statement carried by the official SANA news agency.

The statement spoke of "plotters ... pushed by known foreign parties who reject the reforms."

"These people have infiltrated the ranks of the demonstrators to sow discord between the citizens and the security forces," it added.

"They have set fire to public institutions, attacked soldiers and security agents who refrained from opening fire, which caused a large number of dead and wounded among them," the statement said.

On Friday, SANA said 19 members of the security forces were killed and 75 were injured by "armed groups" in the southern city of Daraa.

A popular imam accused the Syrian authorities of fabricating stories and said dozens of people were killed and wounded in the southern Syrian city on Friday.

"The armed men shown in (the Syrian TV) video are members of the security forces," Daraa's Omari Mosque Imam Sheikh Ahmad as-Seassinah told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

On Friday, Syrian TV showed a video, allegedly of "armed men firing on the security forces."

"The security forces are fabricating (things) and assaulting civilians," the imam added.

"The residents of Daraa will keep protesting until all their demands are met," the daily quoted as-Seassinah as saying.

Daraa has seen the most violence since the crackdown began on anti-government protesters, who demand al-Assad's ouster, weeks ago.

Activists said 27 people were killed in various demonstrations which engulfed the country Friday.

Friday's protests come despite a series of reforms ordered by al- Assad, who has been in power since 2000, following the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad.

This month, the president moved to appease the protesters by sacking the cabinet and several regional governors, promising higher salaries, releasing political prisoners and setting up a committee to begin looking into repealing a controversial emergency law.

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