Syria braces for another Friday of protests

Arab World Materials 22 July 2011 14:44 (UTC +04:00)

Syrian activists called Friday for massive protests across the country to show solidarity with the central city of Homs, which they say has been the target of a draconian security crackdown, DPA reported.

The activists dubbed the demonstrations, expected to take place after Muslim prayers at noon, the "Friday of Khaled bin al-Walid," after a Muslim military commander from the Middle Ages who is buried in Homs.

The call was made as overnight protests were held in and near the Syrian capital Damascus demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad.

At least two people were killed late Thursday in Homs in what was described by anti-government activists as a "savage clampdown" on the city.

"The city of Homs is witnessing the worst kind of violence, from troops loyal to al-Assad who are shelling neighbourhoods in the city" an activist based in Damascus told the German Press Agency dpa.

More than 70 were wounded, the activist said, adding that ambulances could not reach areas where people had been wounded by sniper fire from soldiers positioned on rooftops.

The activist quoted medical sources in Homs as the source of the information.

"The dead and injured inside the houses can still not be reached due to shelling and snipers opening fire on any moving object on the streets," said an opposition network, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria.

Homs has been a flashpoint for mass protests against the government of al-Assad since March.

More than 1,400 people have been killed by security forces since Syrians first took to the streets to demand political reform, local human rights advocates say.

The reports are, however, difficult to verify as the Syrian authorities have barred most foreign media and international human rights groups from entering the country.