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Middle East
Fresh protests erupt in Syria
At least seven deaths reported in southern town of Daraa as demonstrations are held in several cities.
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2011 13:26
Activists say at least 80 people have been killed since pro-democracy demonstrations began on March 18 [Reuters]

Protests have erupted in cities across Syria, despite a series of concessions by Bashar al-Assad, the president, including sacking the cabinet and firing two governors.

Witnesses said security forces were using live ammunition against protesters in Daraa. A source told Al Jazeera that at least seven people were killed in the southern border town; however, the report could not be immediately verified.

Separate demonstrations were reported in cities including Qamishli, Deir e-Zor in the east, the coastal city of Banias, and in the Damascus suburb of Douma.

Al Jazeera's Rula Amin, reporting from Douma, said there were no security forces visible in the area where eight people were killed in protests one week ago.

"It's a new situation in Syria," she said. "We saw thousands of people taking to the streets after Friday prayers, from all walks of life. Young and old, professionals and not professionals, educated, not educated, there were some Islamists, some nationalists. 

"The chanting that was unifying them was a chant for freedom and dignity."

Al-Assad issued a decree on Thursday granting Syrian nationality to thousands of Kurds living in the eastern al-Hasaka region.

It was not immediately clear how many would qualify, but the announcement on Thursday is due to affect about 200,000 Kurds currently registered as foreigners as a result of a 1962 census in the region.

Al-Assad has also announced that a panel will study the possibility of lifting the emergency law, in place since 1963.

But many Syrian activists remain sceptical about the regime's concessions.

Mazen Darwish, an activist in Damascus, told Al Jazeera that the pledged reforms were positive but not enough.

"It's not about this problem or that problem. It's about transforming Syria from dictatorship to democracy. To change the constitution, open up political life, to have free press and political parties and lift the emergency law."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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