More than one million protesters flooded Syrian streets on Friday seeking an end to president Bashar al-Assad’s regime as security forces opened fire and killed at least 17 and wounded nearly 100, activists said.
“Nine people were killed in Damascus — six in Qabun and three in Rukn Eddin (neighbourhoods). Three others were killed in Idlib and two in Daraa,” said Abdel Karim Rihawi of the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights.
Other activists said that at a protest in Duma, 15 kilometres (10 miles) from the Syrian capital, three people were killed and at least 40 wounded by security forces firing on a rally that attracted 35,000 people.
More than one million Syrians turned out in just two cities — Hama and Deir Ezzor — to protest against Assad’s regime and demand the release of hundreds of detainees seized in earlier pro-democracy rallies.
In the central city of Homs, 15 people were wounded when security forces fired on them, pro-democracy militants said, reporting on some of the mass demonstrations staged after Friday prayers.
West meets on Gaddafi
Top officials from major Western and regional powers met on Friday to discuss strategies to strengthen the Libyan opposition and force embattled Muammar Gaddafi out.
The fourth meeting of the Libya contact group kicked off in Istanbul in the wake of contacts between France and members of Gaddafi’s regime that have raised the possibility of negotiating the colonel’s departure.