Human rights groups say Syrian security forces used “heavy fire” against anti-government protesters in the city of Homs overnight. Amateur film posted on the internet purports to show events unfolding as the authorities tried to disperse the crowd.
Thousands of people had gathered for a sit-in in a central area activists have reportedly named “Tahrir Square”, inspired by the uprising in Cairo. The demonstrators are demanding political freedom, the release of prisoners and an end to arrests.
The Syrian interior ministry has described the wave of unrest in Deraa, Homs and other cities as an armed insurrection. The authorities say gangs and extremist Salafist Muslim organisations are behind it.
Other pictures on the internet reportedly show a new demonstration in Homs on Tuesday morning, suggesting that protesters have not been deterred by the attempted clampdown.
Although the authorities have promised to scrap emergency laws, they have also warned that “terrorist activities” will not be tolerated.
Government supporters have also been making themselves heard. At a funeral procession in Homs on Monday, crowds carried portraits of President al-Assad and chanted pro-government slogans.