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Troops open fire as thousands protest in Syrian cities

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Syrian troops opened fire on thousands of protesters rallying in Aleppo and other cities Friday in the wake of a raid on Aleppo's main university that left four students dead. Activists said 13 people were killed in Friday's unrest.


AFP - Security forces killed at least one person when they opened fire on Syrians who took to their streets in their thousands on Friday to call for regime change, a rights watchdog said.

In total, 13 civilians were killed across Syria by government forces on Friday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The demonstrator was killed in the Damascus district of Al-Tadamon when security forces opened fire on a protest, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Activist Abu Omar, reached by AFP in Beirut via Skype, said troops shot at demonstrators outside the main mosque in the Damascus neighbourhood of Jubar.

Shootings were also reported by activists in other neighbourhoods of the capital and surrounding towns as well as in Hasakeh, in the northeast of the country.

Elsewhere, government forces used gunfire to disperse demonstrators in two districts of the central city of Hama and in another town of the same province, the Observatory added.

Opposition activists had called for nationwide protests under the slogan "Our commitment (to the revolution) is our salvation".

Anti-regime demonstrations have been staged after prayers each Friday since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's iron-fisted rule broke out in March 2011.

The Observatory said protests were also taking place Friday in northern Aleppo province, in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and in northwest Idlib.

Amateur video posted on YouTube by activists showed demonstrators in Irbin, a town in Damascus province, carrying a banner that read: "Dear observers, thank you for your visit and goodbye."

The message referred to UN observers deployed in Syria to monitor a UN-backed ceasefire that went into effect April 12 but has failed to take hold fully.

"One year of killings and you still need observers to know the truth, enough lies," read another banner carried by protesters in a neighbourhood of the capital.

More than 600 people have died in violence since the April 12 ceasefire went into effect, according to the Observatory.

Overall, the watchdog estimates that more than 11,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the revolt.

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