Five shot dead in Syria protest: witnesses

May 20, 2011 – 10:19PM


Syrian security forces have killed five people, including a child, in the central city of Homs and the southern region of Daraa as pro-democracy protests swept the country on Friday, witnesses said.

Eyewitnesses earlier said security forces started shooting into the air to disperse thousands of protesters calling for regime change in a flashpoint coastal town of Banias.

Residents and activists said the shooting happened after Friday prayers in the Mediterranean port. They said protests against President Bashar Assad were also under way in the central cities of Homs and Hama, and in Damascus’ outskirts.

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The eyewitnesses spoke by phone on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.

The protests come as Syria has accused the United States of meddling after the speech by President Barack Obama, who said on Thursday that Assad should lead his country to democracy or “get out of the way.”

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