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Shooting in Deraa as Syria pledges to reassure the people

Shooting in Deraa as Syria pledges to reassure the people
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Security forces in the Syrian town of Deraa are said to have opened fire in the air as hundreds of demonstrators called for an end to emergency laws.

euronews has received pictures which appear to show more bloodshed, with bodies lying on the ground amid chaotic scenes. The sound of shooting can clearly be heard.

Dozens of people have been killed in the town in 10 days of anti-government protests.

Residents said security forces returned in strength after a reduced presence in recent days.

The protests, which have spread to at least two other towns, pose a serious challenge to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

The Baath party has been in power in Syria for nearly 50 years but now faces a rebellion similar to others in the Arab world.

The country’s northern neighbour Turkey has joined the criticism, condemning the violence and urging the government to deliver on promises of reform.

“We want these measures to be implemented with action and not just words. I have encouraged him (the president) to make a public statement and unveil these reforms himself,” said the Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The capital Damascus has again seen a large pro-government rally. The official news agency says Assad will give an important speech in the next two days that will “reassure the people”.

So far he has released prisoners and pledged greater freedoms but the moves have failed to quell the protests.