Syria Clamps Down on Damascus Ahead of Anti-Assad Protests

Syrian security services deployed in force in Damascus ahead of mass Friday protests called in support of Homs after a deadly crackdown on dissent in the central city, rights activists said.

"Elements of the army and security forces are deployed in the districts of Qabun and Rukneddin. Barricades were set up at the entrances, limiting exits and entries," said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"Rukneddin is completely isolated. Barricades have been erected at all the entrances. Thousands of security officers are patrolling and conducting searches of homes and making arrests," he told AFP in Nicosia by telephone.

The deployment came just hours ahead of protests after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, the main day of dissent against President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic rule since a pro-democracy movement broke out in mid-March.

Security forces also made a show of strength in Douma, on Damascus's outskirts, especially in the market and main mosque, conducting identity checks of people including women at roadblocks.

Source: Agence France Presse

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