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Syrian Forces Kill 31 After Friday Rallies

PTI 21 Aug 2011, 8:03:39 IST

Nicosia, Aug 20 : Syrian forces killed 31 protesters after weekly Friday prayers as tens of thousands flooded streets to demonstrate against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, a new toll showed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that 15 people, including an 11-year-old and a 72-year-old, were killed in the southern province of Daraa where 25 people were also wounded.

Security forces also killed on Friday 13 civilians in the central province of Homs, including five in the flashpoint neighbourhood of Al-Khalidiyeh.

Yesterday, the Observatory reported that 20,000 people had marched in Al-Khalidiyeh on a day of protest demanding the fall of Assad's autocratic regime.

Three protesters were also shot dead yesterday in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta and Douma, the Observatory said in a statement.

An earlier toll said at least 23 people were killed by the security forces yesterday.

Friday's rallies put to the test a commitment given by Assad to UN chief Ban Ki-moon the previous day that his security forces have ended operations against civilians. The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook group, one of the drivers of the protests, had called for the demonstrations under the slogan, “Friday of the beginnings of victory.” More than 2,000 people have been killed by the government's crackdown on dissent since mid-March, according to rights group and the UN. (AFP)