Anti-Assad protest - Reuters - May 6, 2011
Syrians in Greece burn posters of Syrian President Assad outside the Syrian embassy in Athens on May 6, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Syrian activists on Sunday criticized "Baathist education" as the school year began in the country amid ongoing protests against President Bashar Assad.

"We want to tell the regime that its educational system is rejected because it is exploited by al-Assad to consolidate his government's influence and brainwash our children," a group of college students wrote on Facebook.

The protests come as students were scheduled to go back to school in the country, which has been rocked by anti-government protests since mid-March.

Activists said nine people were killed on Saturday in a government crackdown on protesters who took to the streets in funeral processions for those killed over the weekend.

A total of 51 people were reportedly killed by security forces in different parts of Syria on Friday.

The crackdown by Assad's troops on pro-democracy protests has left some 2,600 people dead since mid-March, according to the UN Human Rights Committee, and triggered a series of sanctions by the United States and the European Union.

Around 200 Syrian opposition figures met near Damascus Saturday to build a common line on anti-government protests that have been ongoing since March.

The opposition at the meeting called for the release of all prisoners and the setting up of a national unity government to lead the country during a transitional period.

They also called for putting military and security officials responsible for the violence on trial.