REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Syrian security forces opened fire Friday on protesters calling for the international community to impose a "no-fly" zone on their country, killing at least 31 people, activists said.
The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition coalition that helps organize protests and documents human rights violations in Syria, reported that 18 people were killed in the city of Homs, nine in the opposition stronghold of Hama, three in the southern province of Dara and one in the northern province of Idlib.
The activist group also said that Internet connections, communications and electricity had been cut in a suburb of Damascus, the Syrian capital, and security forces had used tear gas while attacking a sit-in in Aleppo, the country's second-largest city. An unspecified number of people had been arrested in Aleppo, as well as in Homs and Hama, the activist group said.
Friday’s demonstrations, dubbed "Friday of a no-fly zone," were aimed at urging the international community to impose such a zone, barring Syria from using its military air power in the region, according to The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page , which has become a driving force behind the protests in Syria.
Over the last seven months, antigovernment demonstrations on Fridays have become a weekly ritual in Syria.
Amateur video posted on YouTube suggests widespread support among demonstrators for calls by Syrian opposition leaders to implement a "no-fly" zone. The video posted below purportedly was filmed Friday in the Midan neighborhood of Damascus and shows marchers clapping and chanting for such an international intervention.
In the following video, purportedly filmed in the town of Herak in Dara province, a large crowd is seen waving the Syrian pre-Baathist flag as they shout "the people want a no-fly zone," to the background beat of a drum.
And in the video clip below, purportedly filmed in the town of Kafarnouba in Idlib, protesters carried balloons, a sack full of pigeons, and signs saying "we want a no-fly zone."
A fierce government crackdown on protests has left 3,000 dead since March, according to United Nations statistics, and international outrage has mounted over the rising death toll.
Government opponents blame the killings on forces loyal to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The government says armed terrorists are responsible for the killings and claims that more than 1,100 security officers have been killed.
-- Alexandra Sandels
Photo: A screen grab from a video on YouTube purports to show a Syrian antigovernment protester holding a sign that reads in Arabic "Tal Rifaat, Friday of the 'No-Fly' Zone" during a rally in Aleppo. Credit: YouTube