Syria Sees Largest Protests So Far

Syria saw its largest protests so far on Friday, as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched on the capital and in dozens of other cities and towns across the country. It also saw the least violent response by the government in a month marked by often brutal crackdowns and the firing of live ammunition on crowds. Over the last month, about 200 people have been reported killed in protests. But Friday, security forces seemed to fire above the heads of the crowd and use only batons and tear gas. “It is an amazingly big day, both in the number of protesters and the number of towns and cities being bigger than ever before, and in that the regime response and the way they dealt with the protesters was exceptional,” said Wassim Tarif, director of Insan, a Syrian human rights organization. “This is the first Friday that we don't have reports of people being killed,” he said. In the capital Damascus, crowds waved yellow cards, saying that they were giving a soccer-style warning to President Bashar al-Assad, and that if he didn't reform they would come back with red cards. Elsewhere, protesters tore down posters of the president and called for his overthrow.