UNREST

Thousands Rally in Syria

An estimated half a million people reportedly protested across Syria on Friday against President Bashar al-Assad. There were reports that the government's security forces killed 32 people by shooting at the crowd, and one human-rights group said nail bombs were fired at the protesters. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that protesters "hurled stones" at the security forces as the troops fired on the crowd. Activists say at least 40 people were killed in clashes with security forces Thursday, despite the presence of Arab League monitors. The U.S. State Department said it was concerned by the continuing violence. Meanwhile leaders in the anti-Assad army say they're holding their fire and want to meet with the monitoring team. The government claims it has released over 700 prisoners this week, but according to activists and Human Rights Watch hundreds of other protesters were actually just moved to secret detention facilities, and journalists are still banned from travel within the country.