Clashes erupted in Syria on Friday as hundreds of thousands filled the streets to demonstrate against the government of President Bashar Assad. Activists said at least 10 people were shot dead.The Free Syrian Army ordered its fighters to stop offensive operations pending a meeting with Arab League monitors, but they've so far been unable to contact the monitors.
Demonstrators determined to show the strength of their movement to Arab League monitors deployed in hotspots across the country threw rocks at security forces in the Damascus suburb of Douma where troops tear-gassed the chanting crowds.
Five people were shot dead in the city of Hama and five in the city of Deraa in the south.
"Five were martyred today and at least 20 wounded when the Syrian security forces opened fire," the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, referring to Hama.
It said security forces fired at tens of thousands of protesters in the northern province of Idlib, wounding 25.
At least two dozen were injured in the Damascus suburb of Douma, activists said. One report said army defectors in Douma were engaged in armed clashes with troops. There were no further details.
Meanwhile, Russia is approvingly looking on as the monitors do their thing, saying that they're reassured by the mission. All the while, the body count rises. Assad gets to manipulate where and how the monitors view the country, and the body count rises. That's the way things go in dictatorships and totalitarian/authoritarian regimes. Assad will use the monitors as a way to legitimize his crackdown against protesters.
Yet, there's video suggesting that the monitors are being exposed to some violence despite being closely watched by the regime. This particular video claims to show monitors in Homs coming under sniper fire:
There's no way to verify who was carrying out the sniper fire - whether it was coming from anti-regime or Assad loyalist forces.
Despite (or just as likely because of) the ongoing violence as well as the very presence of the monitors, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets around Syria to protest against the regime.