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SYRIA: Protests reach heart of Damascus despite regime violence [Video]

April 29, 2011 |  8:12 am

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

Massive protests erupted across Syria on Friday, most significantly in the heart of the capital, Damascus, despite an intensified government crackdown over the past week that sought to put a stop to the anti-government movement.

The video above says it shows hundreds and possibly thousands of protesters in the Midan area of Damascus chanting "break the siege of Dara," the restive southern city that has been cut off and reportedly shelled by the Syrian military since an early morning raid on Monday.

A few moments later, the crowd breaks into shouts of "Why are you afraid?" and "The people want to bring down the regime."

About 500 civilians have been killed by Syrian security forces in the six weeks of unrest, according to rights groups. The government contends its forces are being targeted by criminals and armed gangs.

Marches also took place in the key suburb of Dariya, where thousands of protesters can be seen in the following video chanting "the people want the siege to end," also in reference to Dara.

The video above,  said to have been shot outside a mosque in Damascus, shows scores of young men shouting "with our blood and our souls we sacrifice for you, Dara."

The Damascene suburbs of Saqba also witnessed huge marches, with protesters chanting "The people want to bring down the regime" and "This is a youth revolution, we're not thugs or terrorists."

Protesters in the following video, shot outside the Hussein mosque in the port city of Latakia, also chanted in support of Dara.

In the eastern city of Deir al Zour, hundreds of protesters are seen below chanting "One, one, one, the Syrian people are one" and "To heaven we go, martyrs by the millions."

The amateur footage featured below was apparently shot in the coastal city of Baniyas near Latakia. It shows thousands gathered around a makeshift stage as music blares over loudspeakers.

[For the record, 9:28 a.m. April 29: An earlier version of this post misquoted the chants heard in the video at the top. Protesters were not chanting "Oh, Martyr!" but were in fact saying "Why are you afraid?"]

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Videos: Anti-government protests broke out Friday across Syria, including in the capital, Damascus. Credit: YouTube