The Syrian government under President Assad has passed a bill lifting the country’s longstanding state of emergency, according to the official state news agency.
The move has been a key demand of protesters. But it is not clear what it will mean in practice as the authorities have warned that the demonstrations must stop.
The interior ministry has described the wave of unrest in Deraa and other cities as an armed insurrection, saying “terrorist activities won’t be tolerated”.
Homs in central Syria has become the latest focal point for protests that now demand an end to the regime. Activists have named the location “Tahrir Square”, inspired by the uprising in Cairo.
An amateur video posted on the internet is said to show what happened on Monday night. The crowd that had been chanting and jumping up and down is scattered, as shots ring out.
Witnesses say security forces used “heavy fire” against protesters, and claim they saw people on the ground who had been shot.
Amid heightened tension, funerals of both protesters and members of the security services have become huge rallies both for and against the regime.