Protesters have again taken to the streets in defiance of Bashar al-Assad's regime, and the regime has again responded by using deadly force to quell and disperse the protests. Five people were killed in Homs, and casualties were reported elsewhere as the Syrian army has taken up positions outside several cities:
In Homs, Syria's third-largest city, at least five people were killed in clashes with security forces Friday, according to a resident who asked not to be identified. Syrian tanks could be seen on the streets of the western city on the Al Jazeera satellite network, and protesters tweeted that heavy machine-gun fire could be heard in the Asherah, Alseten and Alzahraa areas of the city. Syrian troops had stormed Homs University, according to the Al Arabiya network.Indeed, there were even reports of protesters being shot in the city of Hama, which has seen its share of violence in protests against Bashar's father Hafez.
In videos posted online Friday, demonstrators in the nearby town of Talkalekh could be seen demanding the "toppling of the regime."
"Security forces and the army have prevented protesters from entering main squares and are limiting demonstrations in various neighborhoods," said Wissam Tarif, executive director of the Syrian human rights group Insan.
Tarif said security forces had shot at protesters in Douma, Daqba and suburban Damascus, and that government snipers appeared Friday in Zabadani and Saqba.
"They have been made clearly visible to instill fear," he said.
He said the Syrian army had also set up checkpoints at the entrances to several cities.
At least one protester was hospitalized in Damascus after being shot by security forces, he said, and he claimed that many others had been hospitalized in the capital, although that information could not be verified.
Reuters reports that at least 21 people were killed in various protests located throughout Syria, including in Hama and Homs.