Protesters gathered again in large numbers in cities acrossSyria on Friday to demand reforms, defying a nationwide crackdown in which dozens of demonstrators have been killed in regular rounds of gunfire from security forces.
Seeking to tamp down the now weekly and deadly protests, the government of President Bashar al-Assad had announced several measures on Thursday meant to mollify demonstrators.
Thousands of people assembled in a belt of suburbs around Damascus, the capital; in the central city of Homs; and in the besieged southern town of Dara’a, which has been isolated behind a tight security cordon since the early days of unrest in mid-March.
In the wave of popular uprisings that began to sweep the Arab world three months ago, Friday has become the focal day for demonstrations, with protesters pouring out of mosques after noon prayers, often to confront security forces.
Meanwhile, as Eli Lake reports, the "White House rebuffs Syrian opposition."
The Obama administration has turned down a plea from Syria’s democratic opposition to step up diplomatic pressure on President Bashar Assad, who has violently repressed peaceful anti-government protests.
“The White House has to date rejected our requests for stronger action on Syria,” Ammar Abdulhamid, an unofficial spokesman in the West for the Syrian activists organizing the widespread demonstrations, told The Washington Times.