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Syrian forces fire on crowds amid 'biggest demos so far'

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Syrian forces fire on crowds amid 'biggest demos so far'


Friday’s anti-government demonstrations in Syria look to have been the largest so far, since the uprising began in March.

Once again security forces opened fire on protesters, killing more than 30 people according to human rights campaigners.

In Hama alone more than half a million people reportedly took to the streets against President Bashar al-Assad. More than a million are thought to have demonstrated nationwide.

The figures, like the pictures uploaded onto the internet, cannot be verified. But the images appear to show security forces meting out violence.

Demonstrators were killed in several cities when police fired live ammunition and tear gas, say witnesses and rights groups.

They claim more than 20 died in Damascus, the highest toll the capital has seen.

The opposition said it cancelled a conference after 14 people were killed outside the hall where the meeting was due to take place.

For the first time, people protested in the capital in large numbers, in a clear challenge to the authorities.

Banner slogans called for freedom and liberty.

Unimpressed by the government’s offer of national dialogue, the demonstrators want President Assad to quit.

The authorities blame protesters for the violence. The official Syrian news agency said “armed men” had fired on security forces and civilians. The authorities have persistently blamed “armed terrorist gangs” for the violence.

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