DAMASCUS: Tens of thousands marched in protests across Syria on Friday calling for Turkey to create a buffer zone to protect civilians, as security forces killed at least five more people, activists said.
The largest protests were held in the central Homs province and in the northern town of Hama, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“In 17 districts (in the city of) Homs and at least nine neighbouring towns, tens of thousands of people called for the creation of a buffer zone to ensure their protection,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“On Friday, Hama saw its biggest protests since the army entered the city in August,” he added.
Smaller protests took place in Aleppo, in Damascus province and in the southern Deraa province, the cradle of the protest movement which began eight months ago.
The demonstrations came a day after mutinous soldiers attacked a Syrian air force intelligence base in Idlib, killing eight people, according to the Observatory.
The Britain-based rights watchdog said five more civilians were killed by security forces on Friday, including a man and a woman gunned down at a checkpoint in Homs.
According to a video posted on YouTube, one sign in Aleppo read, “The Free Syrian Army protects me, the buffer zone protects me”, referring to a rebel force set up by army defectors and based in Turkey.
Protesters in Idlib, near the border with Turkey, also demanded the “fall of the regime and the establishment of a buffer zone to protect civilians,”said the Observatory.
The United Nations says more than 4,000 people have been killed in the Syrian regime's crackdown on democracy protests since mid-March.
According to state run news agency SANA, pro-regime marches also took place across the country on Friday, including in Damascus and the coastal towns of Jableh and Tartus.
The protesters “denounced measures taken by the Arab League against Syria and condemned attempts by foreigners to interfere in (Syria's) internal affairs,” SANA said.