Syrian Forces Clash with Protesters

Thousands of anti-government protesters are rallying in Syria on Friday in defiance of a government crackdown, while the government says its forces have been attacked in the southern flashpoint city of Daraa.

Syrian state-run media is quoting a military spokesman who says four soldiers were killed and two captured in what he describes as a "terrorist" attack in Daraa. The spokesman says armed gunmen attacked a military post in the city at dawn, Friday.

Western news reports, meanwhile, quote witnesses who say security forces have opened fire on protesters in the coastal city of Latakia while forces fired warning shots into the air in an effort to prevent a protest in Daraa.

Opponents of President Bashar al-Assad had called for nationwide "Day of Rage" protests after Friday prayers, in what has become a weekly outpouring of anger and dissent against President Assad's government.

Syria's banned Muslim Brotherhood, for the first time, directly joined the call for protests. The group urged citizens to take to the streets in a statement saying "do not let the tyrant enslave you."

In Geneva, the United Nations Human Rights Council is debating on a U.S. resolution calling for the creation of an independent commission to probe allegations of rights abuses in Syria.

U.N. human rights deputy chief Kyung-wha Kang on Friday said the Syrian government "risks creating a downward spiral of anger, violence, killings and chaos."

The U.N. Security Council failed earlier this week to agree on a statement condemning Syria's violence against protesters following resistance to the move by Syria's allies on the council - Russia, China and Lebanon.

Hundreds of people have been killed in Syria since pro-democracy demonstrations first erupted six weeks ago. Much of the violence has taken place in Daraa, which has become the center of the protest movement.

The government has sent soldiers into Daraa in the past week, backed by tanks and snipers, keeping residents off the streets.



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