At least 10 people have died in clashes between activists and Syrian forces in the Damascus area, as troops fired nail bombs to disperse throngs of anti-government demonstrators gathered in cities across the country Friday.
The demonstration, Syrian activists say, is meant to prove the public's resolve and defiance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and show the strength of their movement and the still-prevalent opposition against him to the 60-member Arab League team of monitors traveling across Syria to examine whether the president is abiding by the deal he signed with the league, The Wall Street Journal reported.
There is an enthusiasm seen today because of the presence of the observers, and we noticed protests expanded to new areas, said Omar Idlib, a spokesperson for the Local Coordination Committee, a national network that organizes and documents the protests.
Still, a minor pot of controversy was stirred Wednesday when the Arab League's chief of the monitoring contigent, Sudanese General Mustafa Dabi, said he saw nothing frightening on a first visit to protest-riddled Homs.
On Friday, the league issued a statement claiming that the quotes attributed to the members in them media were wrong.
The delegation hopes that all the promises declared by the Syrian government will be achieved, the statement read.
Huge demonstrations rocked northwestern Idlib province and Douma, a suburb of Damascus where security forces fired nail bombs to disperse the protestors, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. At least 24 protestors were hurt.
In Douma, security forces also fired stun grenades and tear gas at roughly 60,000 to 70,000 demonstrators headed to city hall. And in the province of Idlib, more than 250,000 demonstrators took to the streets, the Observatory said.
Large gatherings were also reported in the suburban areas of Damascus, including Midan and al-Qadam, as the people called for the removal and prosecution of al-Assad, whose regime has been blamed for the deaths of more than 5,000 people since the uprising began in March, the United Nations reports.