Thousands of Syrians protested Friday against President Bashar al-Assad and challenged the team of international observers already on the ground to monitor a cease-fire established by the plan of international envoy Kofi Annan. Despite the truce, at least 13 civilians were killed in violence Friday according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), while “terrorist” attacks have killed 18 members of the regime security forces across the country, according to the official Syrian media.
A video posted by the opposition showed thousands of protesters in Rastane (center) with questions about the effectiveness of observers. “Where are the observers? Homs is soaked in blood, murdered and destroyed “” Where are the binding resolutions of the Security Council?” asked signs as demonstrators called for the downfall of the regime.
In the northeastern Kurdish area, a huge gathering was held in Qamishli, according to other videos. “Homs, we are with you until death,” chanted thousands of protesters. In Duma, a rebellious town 13 km from the capital, young people demonstrated massively calling for freedom, according to another video. Other rallies were held in the provinces of Damascus, Deraa (south) Idleb (northwest), and Alboukamal.
Across the country , activists have reported a massive security deployment, which in particular blocked access to many mosques, which became a traditional starting point for demonstrations after Friday prayers. Like every Friday since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011, anti-regime activists have launched on their Facebook page a call to march with the slogan this week: “We will be victorious and Assad will be defeated.”
International observers had announced they would not attend the events, in order to prevent their “presence is used” to promote “an escalation” of violence. “Today, we have other tasks, we will encounter civilians and representatives of organizations,” Col. Ahmed Himmiche, head of the mission, was quoted as saying. According to the SOHR, government forces killed a militant in the region of Idleb (northwest), two civilians in Damascus area and a civilian in Aleppo (north), where another civilian died in an explosion. Five civilians were killed in more new shelling on Homs. Three other civilians were killed in the nearby town of Qousseir. “The government forces intensified their operations in an attempt to take control of the city of Homs, before the arrival of observers,” said Seif al-Arab, an activist in Homs.