Syrian security forces open fire on protesters: four dead

Syrian security forces open fire on protesters: four dead

Four people were killed in the central Syrian city of Homs when security forces opened fire on an anti-government protest on Friday, activists said, DPA reported.

The names of the four people shot dead in both Bab Sibaa and al-Khaldiya districts of Homs city were posted online.

An activist in Homs told the German Press Agency dpa that security forces opened fire when the demonstrations started after the Friday prayer services despite the heavy military presence

One protester was leading the chants asking "Homs, what do you want?" as others shouted "Freedom." They were also chanting "Freedom is being born".

Syrians taking part in protests, which began in mid-March, are demanding greater freedoms and reforms and calling on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Human rights groups say more than 775 people have been killed by security forces in such protesters so far.

Thousands of people were rallying in the coastal city of Banias and various areas in Qamishli on Friday, according to the activist.

Protesters were calling on President Bashar al-Assad "to leave and let the people live."

Gunshots were also heard in Daraya town, near the capital Damascus on the outskirts of Damascus.

Security forces have been deployed on the outskirts Daraya, as well as the nearby Douma, Maadamiya and Barza towns since Thursday night, according to activists. Police have set up several security checkpoints in these areas.

As tight security measures were imposed across key protest cities in a bid to quell the anti-government rallies, Syrian troops have withdrawn from the western city of Tal Kalakh.

"We saw a convoy of 80 tanks and buses leaving the area at dawn this morning," a witness near the village of Tal Kalakh said.

Some 20,000 Syrian soldiers backed by tanks were deployed last week in Tal Kalakh. The government crackdown forced some 5,500 people to flee to the Wadi Khaled area in northern Lebanon.

According to a refugee from Tal Kalakh who fled to Lebanon last week, the army now is moving to encircle the town of Al Arida on Lebanon's northern border.

The man, who only identified himself as Ahmad of fear of reprisals, said that more than 30 people were killed in Tal Kalakh and some 300 people were arrested by security forces.

Syria slammed the speech given by US president Barack Obama, saying it "clearly shows US interference in Syria's internal affairs."

In his speech, Obama condemned violence against protesters in Syria. "President Assad now has a choice," Obama said. "He can lead that transition or get out of the way.

Syria also said that the speech reaffirmed Washington's staunch support for Israel, the official SANA news agency said.

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of people have been taking part in demonstrations after prayers on Fridays.

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