Witnesses say Syrian security forces have opened fire at anti-government protests in the southern city of Daraa, where residents chanted slogans calling for more political freedoms.
It was not clear if the security personnel were firing in the air or at the hundreds of activists who gathered on Monday in Daraa, the focal point of more than a week of protests against the authoritarian government of President Bashar Assad. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Dozens of people have been killed in the protests, which expanded last Friday from Daraa to other Syrian cities including the port of Latakia and the capital, Damascus.
Syrian officials say at least 12 people were killed in the unrest in Latakia on Friday and Saturday. Witnesses and human rights groups say government forces fired on protesters. Authorities blame extremists for inciting the violence.
Latakia residents set up barricades Monday to protect their neighborhoods against armed gangs roaming the streets, which were mostly deserted. The Syrian government deployed troops in the city on Sunday to restore order.
Syrian officials say Assad will address the nation by Tuesday to announce major reforms aimed at meeting the aspirations of the public. No details have been released. The protests that began this month represent the biggest challenge to the Syrian president's 11-year rule.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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