(image to follow)
Syrians protesters opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad regime, carry banners that read in Arabic: 'Syria is free, Bashar go out, what did you do for the country, it is getting deserted, leave idiot, you ought to understand, down with the Assad regime, seller of Golan,' and in French: 'leave,' during a gathering outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo.
18/03/2011 - Syrian security forces intervened against a rally in Daraa, south of Damascus, Friday, the state news agency said as a human rights activist alleged four people were killed and hundreds wounded.
Other demonstrations were reported in Damascus, Homs, north of the capital and the coastal town of Banias.
"The security forces fired live bullets at the protesters. Four people were killed," said the activist in Daraa contacted by AFP from Nicosia, identifying them as Akram al-Jawabra, Hussam Abdelwali Ayash, Ayham al-Harri and a member of the Abu Aoun family.
"Hundreds of protesters were wounded and many were snatched by the security force from the hospital where they had been taken and removed to an unknown location," he added.
Plain-clothes Syrian police broke up a protest after Friday prayers at the main mosque in central Damascus, dragging away at least two activists, AFP reporters witnessed.
Dozens of security agents who had gathered outside the mosque during the prayers, pulled out batons as soon as the chants broke out and detained at least two people, beating one one who resisted and kicking him in the nose.
At least 200 people immediately rallied in a square outside the mosque, chanting support for President Bashar al-Assad and waving Syrian flags. Some carried portraits of his late father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad.
It was unclear what sparked the chaos, but a Facebook group The Syrian Revolution 2011 had called for demonstrations after Friday prayers during a "Day of Dignity."
A video posted on the group's Facebook page showed a crowd of men inside the mosque chanting "there is no God but God," while a few calls of "freedom" could be heard before being drowned out.
Another video showed hundreds of protesters, mainly men, chanting in a city the Facebook group identified as Daraa, some 100 kilometers south of the capital.
The page said clashes had occurred between protesters and security forces in Daraa while video footage showed fire trucks turning their hoses on a procession to disperse demonstrators.
Two other videos, allegedly from the coastal city of Banias, showed crowds, one with at least 100 people, chanting for freedom.
Syria's state news agency SANA said violence and "acts of sabotage" had broken out in Daraa, prompting security forces to intervene.
"Infiltrators took advantage of a gathering of citizens near the Omari Mosque in Daraa... to provoke chaos through acts of violence which resulted in damage to private and public property," SANA said.
"The infiltrators also set cars and shops on fire, which obliged security forces to intervene in order to protect citizens and property," it added. "They were also attacked by the infiltrators before the latter dispersed."
SANA said another "gathering" had taken place in Banias, with no clashes.