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SYRIA: Defiant protesters march into the night

June 11, 2011 |  8:12 am

"We take death, but never humiliation!" crowds of anti-regime protesters roared in Job Jandali near the Syrian city of Homs during a demonstration Friday evening, according to the amateur footage posted above. 

Despite the brutal crackdown that engulfed Syria on Friday and left dozens dead, protesters proved relentless in their call for democracy and freedom as demonstrations swelled in towns and cities across the country. 

Night demonstrations have been a signature maneuver of the months-long Syrian uprising. In the evenings Syrians from all walks of life gather and march through the streets as part of their cat-and-mouse game with the security apparatus. 

According to Wissam Tarif, activist and director of human rights organization INSAN, seven different night demonstrations swept across the northern province of Idleb, which includes the embattled town of Jisr Shughur on Friday. 

"The crackdowns are getting bad in Idleb, especially in the area of Al Karkouz. Communication has been cut from the town and a wave of arrests have been reported," Tarif said. 

According to witnesses, helicopters, tank-mounted machine guns and heavy artillery were used against the northern city, leaving many houses on fire.

In an effort to maintain the protest momentum, hundreds of residents also assembled by night in the northern city of Hama, scene of the infamous 1982 massacre ordered by Hafez al Assad to subdue the Muslim Brotherhood, which left thousands of Syrians dead. They declared their willingness to sacrifice their own lives to bring down the regime.

The centers of the large cities of Aleppo and Damascus have been relatively quiet. But even there, street demonstrations on Friday afternoon continued into the night in at least two Aleppo neighborhoods. 

In Damascus, where assaults on peaceful protesters by security forces in the Midan and Qaboun district on Friday resulted in at least two deaths, demonstrators roamed the streets in after-hours marches. 

"Bashar, you butcher, we don't want your reforms!" protestors chanted. 

According to witnesses, security forces dispersed the protests with live ammunition and tear gas. Many were injured, witnesses said. 

"The regime thinks they can take us down with him. Especially us, residents of the capital," one activist in Damascus said on condition of anonymity for fear of punishment. 

Saturdays in Syria are usually the scene of mass funerals for those who were killed by security forces in gunfights during Friday protests. 

In the video above, hundreds flock to the streets in Qaboun in a funeral procession for one of the dead. 

"We are the people of Damascus. We are the martyrs," they chant.  

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-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut and a special correspondent in Damascus

Videos: Demonstrators take to the streets in Homs during night protests; mourners in the streets of Qaboun during Saturday funerals. Credit: YouTube.

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