Biggest Protests Yet Rock Syria

In spite of President Bashar al-Assad's recent concessions over the last few weeks, protests in Syria climbed to unprecedented heights on Friday, with tens of thousands of men and women chanting "Freedom!" across the country. Since the demand for reform began a month ago, demonstrations have gone from being a weekly occurrence in the city of Dara'a to an outpouring of daily rallies across key cities like Aleppo and Hama. The unrest is even spreading into Lebanon. Though the president has called for the release of all detainees except for those with a criminal record and formed a new cabinet, he is still not meeting the demands of his people. Moreover, Syrian security forces have brutally cracked down on protests, allegedly arresting protesters at random and torturing them. Over 200 people have died in clashes with the regime, say human-rights agencies. “There can be no real reforms in Syria while security forces abuse people with impunity,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East director. Protesters, however, are not discouraged, and say their revolution is just taking off.