Protests in Syria turned violent Friday, as troops fired on demonstrators in several cities and demonstrators clashed with government loyalists in the capital. In the southern city of Daraa, soldiers shot at protesters who had set fire to a bronze statue of the country's late president, Hafez Assad, and one witness says 20 people were killed. Protesters were reportedly shot dead in the coastal city of Latakia and the central city of Homs. In the capital, Damascus, rival crowds beat each other with leather belts. Tens of thousands came out in protest throughout the country in response to a crackdown in Daraa that they say killed dozens of anti-government marchers. On Thursday, the government promised to repeal its repressive emergency laws, in place since 1963, but the protesters rejected the concession.
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