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New protests against Syria's Assad leave 19 dead, activists say

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syria suffered through another day of bloodshed Friday as security forces opened fire on antigovernment protesters after weekly prayers in several cities across the country.

Human rights activists said at least 19 unarmed people were killed.

Amateur video showed security forces aboard military vehicles shooting at children in the southern city of Dael, where activists say a 13-year-old boy was killed and a 16-year-old critically wounded.

Another clip showed panicking protesters dashing for cover as gunfire erupted in the streets of Homs. Weeping men could be seen carrying the limp body of a man apparently shot in the face.

Syria's three-month uprising and a military crackdown have become the greatest challenge to the longtime authoritarian rule of President Bashar Assad and his family.

Apparently as an overture to the protesters, Assad's unpopular and powerful cousin, telecommunications tycoon Rami Makhlouf, said late Thursday he was withdrawing from business and planning to devote his profits to charity, an assertion that could not be verified.

Makhlouf is already blacklisted by the European Union as one of 13 regime figures behind the violence that, according to rights activists, has claimed 1,300 lives in three months.

Protesters and activists did not appear to be deterred by the violent crackdown nor impressed by Makhlouf's assertion. They mocked him on social networking websites as "Mother Rami Teresa" and took to the streets to voice their complaints.

Gadhafi defiant: In a rambling audio address broadcast on state TV on Friday, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi denounced new airstrikes on Tripoli by NATO warplanes. He urged Libyans to retake lost territory and to defend their homeland against "dogs, cowards and crusaders." He vowed NATO would be defeated and admonished his supporters: "Die! Die! Assume your duties!"

New protests against Syria's Assad leave 19 dead, activists say 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 10:14pm]
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