Syria: five dead as security forces put down protests

Reports from Syria say at least five were killed in clashes between protesters and security forces in the city of Deraa on March 18. Video footage posted on various websites shows large crowds said to be in Deraa chanting “God, Syria, Freedom” and other anti-corruption slogans. Reports from the city say authorities responded with waters cannon and live fire. The official SANA news agency said “infiltrators” had mingled with crowds of Friday worshipers, “to create chaos and unrest,” setting cars and shops on fire—thereby obliging security forces to intervene “to protect citizens and their properties.” Large protests are also reported from the cities of Homs and Baniyas, and security forces reportedly broke up a demonstration after Friday prayers in the main mosque in Damascus. (Haaretz, BBC News, SANA, March 18)

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