Syrian demonstrators call for international protection

AMMAN, (Reuters) – Syrian forces shot dead six  pro-democracy protesters yesterday, activists said, after  demonstrations called for foreign help and Turkey indicated that  its patience was running thin with the bloody crackdown.

Protesters took to the streets in their thousands after  Friday prayers as they have weekly for six months. But, ahead of  a visit by the Arab League secretary general to Damascus on  Saturday, residents and activists reported an easing in the use  of live ammunition by Syrian troops and security police.

In a change in their rhetoric, demonstrators demanded  international protection to stop civilian killings in what has  become one of the most violent responses to protest of the “Arab  Spring” uprisings sweeping the Middle East and North Africa.

“Where is the international community?” shouted protesters  in the Damascus suburb of Qudsaya.
In Hajar al-Aswad, on the southern edge of Damascus,  protesters carried a large green, white and red-striped old  Syrian flag, dating back half a century to the era before  Assad’s Baath Party seized control of Syria.

“After all these killings and assaults, where is  international protection?” read a banner carried by protesters  who chanted: “The people want the execution of the president.”

Assad has responded to the protests, inspired by Arab  popular uprisings that have toppled three autocratic leaders in  North Africa this year, with military assaults in which the  United Nations says 2,200 people have died. A Syrian grassroots  organisation said security forces have killed 3,000 civilians.

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