Activists call for more protests in Syria

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April 1, 2011, 12:51 p.m. | World — by Associated Press

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, waves to lawmakers as they applaud for him at the Parliament, in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, March 30, 2011. Syria's president has blamed the wave of protests against his authoritarian rule on 'conspirators' - but he failed to offer any concessions to appease the extraordinary wave of dissent.
© AP

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Syrian activists have called for massive demonstrations across the nation to honor those killed in two weeks of protests demanding reforms in this Mideast country. The call on social networks has dubbed the rallies, which are expected after midday prayers, a "Friday of Martyrs" in reference to more than 70 people who died in the government crackdown on protesters.

The protests erupted March 18 in the impoverished and drought-stricken south and spread quickly to other areas.

President Bashar Assad dashed expectations he would announce sweeping reforms this week and instead blamed the popular fury that has gripped Syria on a foreign conspiracy. He set up committees on Thursday to investigate the civilian deaths and the possibility of replacing decades-old emergency laws.
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