47 killed in anti-government protests in Syria

47 killed in anti-government protests in Syria

At least 47 people were killed Friday by security forces in Syria as pro-democracy protesters took to the streets in several parts of the country defying a harsh government clampdown, according to opposition activists, DPA reported.

Around 21 civilians were killed in the province of Idlib near the Syrian border with Turkey, the Board of the Syrian Revolution, a group of anti-government activists, reported.

"The security forces continue to shoot indiscriminately," Selim al-Salman, a lawyer from Idlib, told broadcaster Al Arabiya Friday night.

He added it was difficult for residents to venture out to help the injured.

Six villagers were killed by troops hunting for army defectors in Halfaia, in the central city of Hama, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Other deaths occurred in the capital Damascus, the dissident city of Homs, in central Syria, and the eastern province of Deir al-Zour , said the observatory.

Footage posted on the internet by activists on Friday showed protesters in the southern province of Daraa chanting slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and demanding his ouster.

Huge anti-government demonstrations were reported after the Friday noon prayers in other areas of Syria as the protests entered a seventh month.

Security forces besieged mosques in the Al-Meedan area of Damascus to prevent protests from taking place, Omar Idlibi, a spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees - a network of opposition activists-told the German Press Agency dpa.

Security forces, meanwhile, fired indiscriminately on demonstrators in Hama and Homs, activists told broadcaster Al Jazeera.

They also stormed the town of Basr al-Harir in the province of Daraa, where heavy gunfire was heard, according to the report.

With the slogan, "We are continuing until we bring down the regime," activists called online for intensifying protests to press for an end to al-Assad's rule.

"We will not stop no matter what kind of brutal means this regime uses against us," the activist Idlibi told dpa.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government accused the head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, of encouraging foreign interference in the country's affairs, Al Arabiya reported.

In a "toughly worded" memorandum presented to the pan-Arab organization, Damascus expressed "surprise and grave concern" over a recent meeting between al-Arabi and Syrian opposition figures in Cairo, the broadcaster reported.

"The behaviour of the secretary general is a serious precedent and goes beyond his powers and statement of mission as specified by the Arab League charter," Al Arabiya quoted the memorandum as saying.

There was no comment from the Arab League.

Also on Friday, Syrian security forces continued a large-scale hunt for defectors in areas around the northern Lebanese-Syrian border.

A Lebanese man was wounded overnight by shots fired across the border in the Akkar region, hours after Syrian troops mistakenly shot at a Lebanese army unit in the area.

The Lebanese National News Agency said Ahmad Zeidan Ahmad was wounded by gunfire that struck homes in the Lebanese village of Kenayseh.

Residents living in the area said that people, who fled their homes after the firing on Kenayseh, began to return to the town.

"Some residents of Kenayseh whose homes were hit by the Syrian gunfire fled their homes late Thursday for fear that the situation might escalate," Ayman Khazaal, a resident, told dpa.

Several hundred Syrians and defectors have fled to areas in northern Lebanon, especially Akkar, since the protests started in mid-March.

On Thursday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for "coherent" international action against al-Assad's government to stop its clampdown on the protests.

"When he (al-Assad) has not been keeping his promises, enough is enough and the international community should really take coherent measures and speak in one voice," Ban said in New York.

An estimated 2,600 people have been killed in Syria during the government crackdown on protesters, according to the United Nations.

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