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SYRIA: Red card, you're out? Massive protests deliver stern warning to regime

April 15, 2011 |  6:27 am

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Thousands of protesters across Syria turned out demanding freedom and, at times, the fall of the regime, just one day after President Bashar Assad announced his new cabinet lineup and ordered the release of some prisoners in an attempt to quell the growing anti-government movement.

Large demonstrations were reported in the key cities of Dera, Latakia, Homs, Aleppo, Baniyas, Qamishli and even Damascus, as well as smaller towns and villages around the country.

Amateur videos posted online appeared to show protesters shouting "our blood and our souls for you, martyr," as well as the names of cities that have witnessed the most violence in the month since the government began its crackdown. Other slogans included "freedom" and "the people want to topple the regime."

In the city of Douma outside Damascus, pictures posted to Facebook showed hundreds of marchers holding up yellow cards in what could be a sports-inspired warning to the government that the movement is escalating its demands.

The most dramatic footage to emerge as of Friday afternoon claimed to show what appear to be thousands of protesters in the southern village of Enkhil, outside Dera, where residents reportedly clashed with security forces Thursday night. The crowd is chanting "the people want to topple the regime."

The following video allegedly shot in Latakia Friday appears to show hundreds of protesters shouting slogans against the government's crackdown, which human rights groups say has taken the lives of at least 200 people.

Even in Hama, which was the site of a brutal crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s, hundreds turned out to shout "our blood and our souls for you Baniyas," a reference to the northern coastal city where several people were killed and hundreds arrested over the last week, according to amateur video posted online.

The Kurdish city of Qamishly in the north was also the site of protests, despite a recent government concession that granted some 300,000 stateless Kurds Syrian citizenship. Toward the end of the following video posted online, one of the leaders of the march can be heard shouting, "The people want to topple the regime!" but the chant that catches on is "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!"

Another video shot from a tall building appears to show hundreds of protesters clapping and cheering in the city of Jableh

-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Top photo: protesters in Douma hold up yellow cards in a warning to the regime. Credit: Facebook. Videos: Protesters around Syria call for freedom and the fall of the regime. Credit: YouTube