Last Updated: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:32 pm (KSA) 09:32 am (GMT)

Over 1.2 million Syrians in Hama and Deir Ezzor urge Assad exit. By Mustapha Ajbaili

Syrian anti-regime protesters carry a giant national flag during a rally in al-Assy square in the western city of Hama. (File Photo)
Syrian anti-regime protesters carry a giant national flag during a rally in al-Assy square in the western city of Hama. (File Photo)

More than 1.2 million Syrians demonstrated after Friday prayers in the northern city of Hama and Deir Ezzor in the east, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, as thousands more took to the streets other cities across the country.

“More than 1.2 million people marched: in Deir Ezzor there were more than 550,000, and in Hama more than 650,000,” Rami Abdel Rahman said, adding that the security forces were notable by their absence during the protests.

Al Arabiya TV broadcast live mobile footage from Damascus suburb of Al Kiswa and from cities of Hama and Deraa.

Thousands of demonstrators have marched also in various Kurdish towns in the northeastern province of Hasaka, including Amuda, Derbassiya and Ras Al Aim, said Abdel Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for Human Rights.

Protesters have destroyed a statue of late president Hafez Al Assad in a suburb in Hasaka, prompting security forces to open fires, Al Arabiya TV reported.

Hundreds more were marching in the southern town of Suweida, and demonstrations were also taking place in the northwestern province of Idlib, particularly in Tastanas and Kafar Nubol.

In Damascus, meanwhile, Rihawi said security forces were deployed heavily in the Qabun and Rukneddin quarters and had set up checkpoints at their entrances.

At the same time, telephone communications and electricity were cut in Daraya and Douma, just outside the capital.

In the central city of Homs residents said At least five civilians were killed overnight as tanks attacked homes.

This week’s protests are dedicated to Homs, the latest focus of the crackdown on the protest movement, where government forces have killed at least 22 people since Monday, according to activists.

Last Friday Syrian security forces on Friday killed at least 32 demonstrators in several parts of the country, including 23 in Damascus, local coordination committees said.

Since the protests began on March 15, violence has killed 1,419 civilians and 352 members of the security forces, while more than 1,300 people have been arrested, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

(Mustapha Ajbaili, Night Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: Mustapha.ajbaili@mbc.net)

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