The New York Times reports that Bashar al-Assad continues to murder Syrians who are protesting his regime:

Thousands of Syrians defied a ferocious crackdown and took to the streets Friday in what appeared to be a potentially dangerous moment in the nine-week uprising against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights activists said at least 26 people were killed when security forces opened fire in at least five cities.

In an unsettling sign for the government, protesters gathered in somewhat greater numbers in the capital, Damascus, which has remained relatively quiet until now. Far bigger crowds than last week also took part in protests in Baniyas, a coastal town that the government had declared quiet after deploying troops there weeks ago, and Homs, a city in central Syriathat is emerging as a locus of the challenge to Mr. Assad’s authority.

Activists who provided details of the gatherings said some protesters in the most restive neighborhood of Homs raised a version of Syria’s flag that pre-dated the Assad family’s rule. And in Albu Kamal, a town near the Iraqi border, a resident said protesters burned a municipal building and stormed a jail, freeing prisoners. The turnout, though still far short of the mass demonstrations in Egypt and Tunisia, suggested that the government’s sweeping crackdown, in which hundreds have been killed and thousands were arrested, is proving incapable of crushing the dissent.

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