Witnesses say thousands of people have once more taken to the streets in Syria after Friday prayers. They claim the protests were large and widespread. However Syrian state television described them as small and sporadic.
Activists claim at least eight people have been shot dead by the army. Unrest was reported in the restive central city of Homs, the capital, Damascus, and Aleppo and Idlib near the border with Turkey.
On Friday, the authorities allowed the media to film in the severely damaged city of Hams. This came after the army left. The thinking is that it was an attempt to appease Syria’s neighbour, Turkey.
“These are the shell casings from when they shot at the mosque” said one woman, brandishing the metal objects at the camera. “They fired on women and children, then they threw their bodies into the river. God curse them, I say.”
The large-scale military crackdown has prompted international condemnation. Turkey’s foreign minister this week described it as unacceptable, while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for a hardening of sanctions against Damascus, particularly in the energy sector.