Mass demonstrations in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s reforms were held on Thursday in many Syrian cities, the state TV said.
The TV said “hundreds of thousands” of people, holding national flags and al-Assad’s portraits went to central squares in Damascus, Aleppo, Latakia, Tartus and Deir as-Zor to support the current government’s policies.
Participants are also protesting against the Arab League’s proposal for a power transition in the country, which they say is “a blatant violation of Syria’s independence and sovereignty.” Under the plan, al-Assad is to transfer power to his deputy and make way for a national unity government.
Syrian TV said the rally was also against an “incessant aggressive campaign by certain Arab states, which is a part of a foreign conspiracy directed against Syria.”
More than 50 people have been killed in clashes with government troops over the last 24 hours, pan-Arab paper Elaph reported on Thursday.
The majority of the deaths were in Homs – the stronghold of the nationwide protests which broke out in Syria about a year ago. Other deaths were reported from the cities of Idlib, Deraa and Damascus, the paper added.
An anti-government riot was suppressed in the city of Hama on Wednesday, according to Al-Hayat pan-Arab paper; 4,000 government fighters stormed the city using armored vehicles and heavy machineguns. Several districts of the city were reduced to rubble, and electricity, internet and mobile communications have been cut.
Many Hama residents were wounded in the attack, but shooting continues and it has been impossible to evacuate them, the local coordination council said.
At least 5,000 people have been killed in ten-month-long clashes between the government and the protesters in Syria, according to UN estimates. Syrian authorities blame the violence on armed gangs affiliated with al-Qaeda and say more than 2,000 soldiers and police have been killed.