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Nine dead in Syria as biggest ever anti-Assad protests take place

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to streets all across Syria to protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s current regime.

Protestors in Deir Ezzor
Protestors in Deir Ezzor

AT LEAST NINE people have died in Syria in the past 12 hours as security forces clash with anti-government protestors, activist groups in the Middle Eastern country said today.

This afternoon, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria emailed us this shocking video from the Daraya suburb. It seems to back up activist claims that security forces opened fire on peaceful protestors in Damascus.

According to Al Jazeera’s live blog, the nine deaths include three people in Homs, two in Damascus and one in the coastal town of Latakia. The LCCS sent the news agency a list of the victims’ names.

Video footage of the protests appears to back up activists’ claims that today’s protests are the biggest in Syria since the unrest began 15 weeks ago. Civilian videos and photographs emerging from Hama, Idlib and Latakia today seems to be the most verifiable yet.

This one from Hama, where activists claim over 300,000 people have turned out, shows a purple sign which reads, “Long live a free Syria. Fall down Bashar”.

Since last week, Sky News reporters have been allowed into the capital city of Damascus to report the events of the uprising. They are the first foreign journalists allowed into the country since the unrest began in March. In an interview earlier this afternoon, they heard from Opposition leaders who now believe they can win the fight for the country’s freedom.

Today’s massive demonstrations come after activist groups rejected reform proposals that would allow Assad to remain in power.

Here are some of the images being uploaded to Twitter and Facebook throughout the day by civilian photographers and activist groups:

Nine dead in Syria as biggest ever anti-Assad protests take place
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  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    This image from the Syrian Revolution 2011 page shows the massive protests underway in Hama. The images emerging from Syria today are the most verifiable yet and show the scale of the demonstrations has swelled considerably.
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    Over 300,000 people have gathered in Hama to demonstrate against President Bashar al-Assad's current regime. Assad has ruled the country since his father died in 2000. He came to power promising reform but continued to rule under Emergency Laws, which strip most citizens of their constitutional rights.
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    A young girl takes part in anti-government protests in Syria. This image was uploaded to Twitpic by Humanitarian Relief (@IHHen). Emboldened by their neighbours in Tunisia and Egypt, Syrian people took to the streets looking for reform in March. Since then, their demands have increased and now they want Assad to step down from any position of power.
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    The LCCS uploaded this image to its Facebook page, which shows a sign written in English calling on the UN to take action. The UN Security Council has remained relatively silent on the issue as certain members, including Russia and China, have refused to sign any resolution condemning the actions of Assad and his security forces. However, the EU has issued harsh sanctions against Assad and his regime.
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    A Syrian flag is displayed in Deir Ezzor as thousands of protestors gather in the city's square after Friday prayers. Although the US and other western powers have condemned the violence being used to crackdown on peaceful protestors, a Libyan-style intervention has been ruled out.
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    Protestors show Assad and his family the "red card" as they chant "Get Out". The Ba'ath Party has ruled in Syria since 1963. Assad's response to the Arab Spring movement has been to use violence against the protestors, detain students and activists and claim the terror has been unleashed by "armed gangs".
  • Syrian Protests on July 1

    Bashar al-Assad was approved as president by popular referendum in June 2000. He came to power with the reputation of a modernist but has since failed to introduce any reforms. A speech last month in which he offered a "national dialogue" was dismissed by Opposition leaders.
  • Syria Protests on July 1

    Well-known activist Malath Aumran has been tweeting the revolution since it began in March. The population of Syria is currently 22 million and is made up of various ethnic and religious groups, including Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians, Druze, Alawite Shias and Arab Sunnis. About 75 per cent are Sunni Muslims but the minority Alawites, the sect of Assad, play a more powerful role.

Since the government’s crackdown on peaceful, pro-democracy protests began in March, more than 1,300 civilians have been killed and some 10,000 people arrested in the Middle East country. According to Sky News reports however, the actual figure is higher and the LCCS say they have the names of 1450 dead civilians, among them 91 children, 41 women, and 193 soldiers who they claim were killed for refusing to obey orders to open fire on protestors.

Furthermore, at least 10,000 people have crossed the Syrian border and are currently staying in refugee camps in Turkey.

Read: A timeline on what’s been happening in Syria since March 15 >

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