Security forces open fire on anti-government protestors in Syria

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Unrest continues in Syria as security forces allegedly opened fire on 10,000 anti-government protestors in the city of Homs on Monday night; two were reported as injured.

The protest, sparked by the funerals of seventeen anti-government protestors held earlier in the day, resulted in security forces locking-down the city and ordering protestors to disband by 2:30 a.m. local time. Security forces allegedly opened fire at 2:15 a.m., also using tear gas to subdue the crowd.

This is the latest in a spate of unrest in the country and the largest protest seen in Homs, Syria's third largest city, since the unrest began a little over a month ago and comes despite an announcement from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Saturday promising the removal of this country's decade-long emergency laws within a week.

The Syrian interior ministry has blamed the attack on armed gangs whose objective is to establish a Salafist regime in Syria and describe the unrest as an "armed insurrection."

Human rights activists claim this statement indicates a move towards the use of harsher tactics against protestors and estimate more than 200 protesters have already been killed since the beginning of the unrest more than a month ago.

In light of the recent deaths, one activist, calling himself Abu Haider, indicated to Al Jazeera that the protestors' objective had changed from reform to regime change.

Foreign minister Walid al-Muallem claims that the reform process is underway and while peaceful protest will be tolerated, disruptive or violent actions will not.