Thousands of protesters rally in Syrian cities

Arab World Materials 6 May 2011 16:49 (UTC +04:00)

Thousands of pro-reform protesters on Friday took to the streets in Syrian cities of Damascus, Banias and Rastan, the pan-Arab al-Jazeera TV reported.

The demonstrators called for the Syrian leadership to step down and lifting a siege having been imposed on the southern city of Daraa for 11 days, according to al-Jazeera.

Activists dubbed Friday demonstrations as "Friday of challenge, " urging to resume the anti-government protests despite the intervention of the army which has recently been deployed to Daraa, heartland of the pro-reform protests, and other cities to end weeks of unrest, Xinhua reported.

Anti-government protests erupted seven weeks ago in Daraa, 100 km south to the capital Damascus and spread to other parts of Syria, including its capital. According to Syrian human rights groups, 582 civilians, at least, have been killed across the country.

Syrian authorities accuse "armed terrorist groups and foreign conspiracy" of standing behind the turmoil.