International

In Syria: Reports Of Shots Fired At Protesters

There are reports from Syria of authorities opening fire today on protesters in the southern city of Daraa. We've been updating this post since it was first published at 8:10 a.m ET.

Update at 2:55 p.m. ET. Clashes In Several Cities:

"Violence erupted around Syria on Friday as troops opened fire on protesters in several cities and pro- and anti-government crowds clashed on the tense streets of the capital in the most widespread unrest in years, witnesses said. ... The violence erupted after tens of thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country after Friday prayers, shouting calls for greater freedoms in support of a more than week-long uprising in Daraa, according to witnesses, activists and footage posted online."

Update at 11:30 a.m. ET. Some Deaths Reported:

CNN and the AP are reporting they've been told by witnesses in Daraa that some protesters were killed when authorities opened fire on them today.

Update at 10:45 a.m. ET. Witness Says Troops Have Fired On Protesters:

The Associated Press just moved this "alert": "a resident of Syrian city of Daraa tells AP that troops have opened fire on protesters."

Update at 10:25 a.m. ET. Report Of Heavy Gunfire In Daraa:

Reuters reports it's been told by a witness that "heavy gunfire" can be heard in Daraa's central square, where thousands of protesters have gathered. The news service also says it's been told that protesters burned a statue of former President Hafez Assad (the current president's father).

Our original post:

There's word from Syria this morning, via The Associated Press, that "protesters shouting for freedom gathered in the capital and other areas around the country Friday as security forces ordered journalists to leave a southern city where a brutal weeklong siege on demonstrations killed dozens of people."

In that southern city, Daraa, "small crowds gathered ... on Friday after calls to attend the funerals of people killed in unprecedented anti-government protests, but there was no immediate sign of protests," Reuters says.

The news from Syria in recent days has varied dramatically — one day there are reports that police shot and killed many of those who have been demanding reforms, the next day the government is saying that it will consider lifting the decades-old emergency laws that govern life there.

Renee Montagne speaks with Phil Sands

On Morning Edition, Damascus-based reporter Phil Sands of The National (a newspaper published in the United Arab Emirates) told show host Renee Montagne that it's "difficult to know exactly" which way things will go in Syria because of the "up and down" way the government of President Bashar Assad has been responding to the protests

As Sands tells Renee, the Assad regime has been sending very mixed signals.


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