Murder of Students in Syria sparks huge protests
President Assad's forces fired live ammunition into a crowd of tens of thousands of protestors in the key city of Aleppo on Friday as citizens, enraged at the government's murder of 4 students during a crackdown at the local university, flooded the streets following Friday prayers.
Casualties are unknown at this writing, but 25 other Syrians were killed in violence across the country on Friday.
An Aleppo-based activist said the protests were the largest since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011. There was no immediate word of casualties.
"The people are incensed by what happened at the university," said the activist, Mohammed Saeed. "Everyone wants to express solidarity with those students."
Saeed said security forces were out in full force, firing live ammunition to disperse protesters and arresting people randomly.
"With our blood, we sacrifice for you students!" people shouted.
The raid at Aleppo University was an unusually violent incident for the city, a major economic hub that has remained largely loyal to President Bashar Assad over the course of the country's 14-month uprising.
The attack on a university campus, considered something of a safe space even within Syria's upheaval, sparked outrage among many residents there.
Activists said large protests formed Thursday night in solidarity with students who were thrown out of their dorms along with their belongings. Dozens of protesters were arrested during the night, activists said.
On Friday, tens of thousands of people demonstrated as they streamed out of mosques in several districts of the city. Friday, the Muslim holy day, is the main day of anti-government protests in Syria, when thousands of demonstrators around the county have been taking to the streets, calling for Assad's ouster.
Aleppo University announced it was closing until final exams on May 13 following the siege that began late Wednesday, when around 1,500 students staged a protest against Assad. Pro-regime students attacked the crowd with knives before security forces swept in, firing tear gas and then live ammunition, activists said.