Syrian activists prepare for mass protests to press for change
Syrian activists have called for mass protests following Friday prayers across the troubled country to slam a continuing security crackdown and press for democracy, DPA reported.
The day has been dubbed "Friday of Freedom Prisoners," in honour of those jailed during months of protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Security forces set up barricades in districts of the capital Damascus and various towns, according to activists.
According to the opposition Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, civilians and at least one member of the security forces were killed in a security crackdown in the central city of Homs. The group did not specify the number of civilians killed.
On Thursday night, state television reported that armed groups were seeing in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour. The report included footage of what it described as subversive groups who had allegedly attacked a pro-government march near Damascus.
The "armed groups" kidnapped two policemen and a high school student in the central city of Hama, according to the television report.
More than 1,400 people have been killed by security forces in the unprecedented protests since mid-March, human rights groups say.
But the government has disputed the figure and blamed "armed thugs" and foreign conspirators for the unrest.
The reports are difficult to verify because the Syrian authorities have banned most foreign media and international human rights groups from entering the country.