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Thousands Protest At Syrian Funerals

Anti-Syrian government protesters assemble in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on Wednesday March 23, 2011. Hussein Malla/AP hide caption

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Hussein Malla/AP

Anti-Syrian government protesters assemble in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, on Wednesday March 23, 2011.

Hussein Malla/AP

Reuters has sent this tweet:

FLASH: At least 20,000 march in funeral for nine Syrian protesters in Deraa, chanting freedom slogans - witnesses

It's a bold move, because the last clash between protesters and Syrian security forces occurred yesterday during funerals and protesters were killed. The southern Syrian city has been in lockdown, according to the New York Times, especially since a well-known doctor was shot and killed. The Times reports Dr. Ali al-Mahameed was treating injured protesters at the Omari mosque, where demonstrators had gathered to object to recent security crackdowns, including the detention of 15 children arrested on graffiti violations.

On Monday, NPR's Melissa Block spoke with Reuters Damascus bureau chief, Khaled Oweis. He says many people in Syria are fed up with the reach of the secret police:

"...the, what we call here al-Mukhabarat, or the secret police, has been growing. And they've been interfering in everything. At one point, I don't think you can go to the toilet in Deraa without having their permission from the secret police. People got ticked off with this."

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Oweis says the secret police are run by the cousin of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. He says Syrian protesters aren't calling for al-Assad's removal:

"...but one thing they are sure demanding is the removal of his cousin. So we can say that their demands are specific, but they also go at the heart of the Syrian system."