SYRIA: Protesters sweep through eastern city in nightly defiance
A man and his child march hand-in-hand, throw their fists into the air and chant for freedom in the midst of a mass evening protest in the rebellious city of Dair Alzour.
"The doctors and fisherman of Dair Alzour are united in realizing all the needs of the free people of Syria," says a banner at the head of a large after-hours march Monday night, according to YouTube footage.
Protesters clap in unison to the slogan that has become the catchphrase of the Arab world, "The people want to overthrow the regime."
The shadow of a large Syrian flags engulfs a crowd of protesters, most of whom are in white shirts.
"I've seen and heard things I thought I'd never see or hear during my lifetime or the lifetime of my children," said one shopkeeper in Dair Alzour who participated in the Monday night demonstration and was later reached by telephone. "It is surreal. Many of us are shocked by our own courage, especially since protesters are being shot dead on a daily basis."
The Local Coordination Committee, an activist network, reported Monday that security forces were closing in on the Damascus suburbs of Saraqeb and Duma as well as Daeel in the south and Aleppo in the north, as well as many other restive areas where protests have erupted in the past weeks.
"Night demonstrations are growing larger. The Syrians feel that these demonstrations give them the best platform to express their disapproval," said Hamad Jilat, another resident in Dair Alzour reached by telephone.
Evening protests have also drawn more than a few Syrian women, Jilat said.
"In the evenings, women go to the streets and ask for the simplest thing: freedom," he said.
As the last week before Ramadan comes to a close, protesters are racing to mobilize for Friday prayers. Meanwhile, opposition figures are scheduled to meet this week in Istanbul.
"No opposition has shown to be able to reflect the reality on the streets," said Jilat, who was also a member of the Damascus Spring, a prominent Syrian activist network that issued a statement in 2005 criticizing the Syrian regime as authoritarian.
"We don't know how to do politics," he said.
-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut
Videos: Residents of Dair Alzour take to the streets Monday night. Credit: YouTube.
Photo: Nocturnal demonstrators wearing white march through Dair Alzour. Credit: YouTube.