Anti-government protests have erupted in the northwestern city of Aleppo, as students have demonstrated against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad.

Radif Mustafa, president of the Kurdish Committee for Human Rights, said state security forces and students clashed on the campus of Aleppo's faculty of literature.

Security forces dispersed by force a protest by students calling for freedom, he told Agence France Presse by telephone.

At least three students were reportedly arrested.

Most of the demonstrators reportedly came from Deraa, the city in southern Syria which has been a focal point of the national movement against Assad.

Aleppo, the second-largest city in Syria, had not yet witnessed any demonstrations during the turmoil that has swept across much of the country for the past month or so.

There were similar protests by university students in the capitol Damascus demanding more democratic reforms, following a sit-in a few days ago.

Abdel Karim Rihawi of the Syrian League for the Defense of Human Rights, said: Security forces used batons to disperse the students and some students have been arrested.”

Separately, thousands of women and children reportedly marched on Syria’s principal coastal highway demanding the release of about 350 men who were arrested by security forces and secret police during raids in the towns of Bayda and Beit Jnad. The women walked along the road towards Turkey, chanting slogans, while holding white flags and olive branches.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights explained that state security officers barged into houses and arrested the men in Bayda in retaliation for earlier protests in Baniyas against Assad. At least two people were killed during the raids.

The women of Bayda are on the highway. They want their men back, SOHR said.

A human rights lawyer told Reuters: Syria is the Arab police state par excellence. But the regime still watches international reaction, and as soon as it senses that it has weakened, it turns more bloody.”

Thus far, Syrian authorities have blamed the protests on unnamed foreign conspirators and “terrorist cells” seeking to destabilize the country.

Human rights activist Montaha al-Atrash said Assad’s officials dream up more fantasy armed gang scenarios as soon as another region rises up to demand freedom and democracy. Shame on them. They are doing a disservice to their own president. Why do infiltrators and armed groups disappear when the authorities organize a 'popular' pro-Assad demonstrations? As soon as an area like Bayda stands up, they attack it and put out the usual film reel of members of the security forces who died defending stability and order.”