Syrian activists challenge al-Assad to let media cover protests

Syrian activists challenge al-Assad to let media cover protests

Activists challenged authorities on Sunday to allow media to cover anti-government protests inside Syria, as President Bashar al-Assad declared his country is on track for comprehensive reform, dpa reported.

"We challenge the regime to open the way for media to cover what is happening in Daraa and other Syrian cities," activists wrote on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page.

"This is a challenge from the Syrian people to you and your corrupt regime. You know your end will come once the world knows the truth of "armed gangs," they added in a post online.

Foreign journalists are either barred from Syria, or largely confined to Damascus. Several of them have been detained for awhile after protests began last month. Activists have been uploading many videos of anti-government protests online.

On Friday, state media reported that 19 members of the security forces were killed and 75 were injured by "armed groups" in the southern city of Daraa.

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

Yet, opposition accuse government agents of shooting at protesters during demonstrations that call for President Bashar al-Assad's ouster.

At least 27 people were killed in various demonstrations which engulfed the country Friday, according to activists and rights groups.

Violent government crackdowns on anti-government protests have been reported since they began on March 15, especially in Daraa.

On Saturday, al-Assad said that his country is on course for comprehensive reform, according to the official news agency SANA.

He said Syria is open to benefiting from the experience of European countries, several of which ended authoritarian rule in the 1980s. His remarks came during a meeting with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolay Mladenov to discuss the current developments in the region, especially in Syria.

Mladenov expressed his country's support for the reforms carried out by the Syrian goverrnment and is willing to offer every possible assistance in this regard, SANA added

This month, the president moved to appease protesters by sacking the government and several regional governors. He also promised higher salaries, the release of political prisoners and a possible repeal of controversial emergency laws.

However, his promises have failed to quell demonstrations.

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