Mass Protests Erupt in Syria Amid Funeral Processions, Activists Say

Funeral of Syrians killed over weekend held in Homs turns into protest; activists say 17 also wounded in clashes near Idlib on border with Turkey.

The funerals of Syrians who were killed over the weekend by gunfire from security forces turned into mass protests on Monday, activists said.

Funeral processions were held in the southern province of Daraa, the southwestern area of Houran and the central Homs province, according to activists.

syria - Reuters - October 7 2011

"During the funeral of three people in Bab Amr in Homs, the huge crowd turned the funeral into a protest, calling for the ousting of this tyrant regime, which is killing young children and arresting doctors," an activist based in Lebanon told dpa.

He said that at least two people were killed in gunfire in the Homs protest.

Meanwhile, at least seventeen people were wounded in a clash between army defectors and security forces in the province of Idlib near the Syrian-Turkish border, the activist added.

Idlib, which is close to Turkey's border, has become a hub of army defectors and has experienced fierce raids by security forces searching for dissidents and "armed terrorist gangs."

At least five members of government forces were killed in confrontations at a checkpoint with gunmen - believed to be army defectors - in the central province of Homs, said the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Clashes between army forces and defectors have been increasing in Syria, as several soldiers have announced their alliance to the opposition Syrian Free Army, which vowed support to pro-democracy protesters.

According to activists, at least 20 soldiers defected from the army on Monday in the restive province of Homs.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Local Coordination Committees said in a statement that security forces had also intensified their crackdown on doctors who treat wounded demonstrators.

"Security forces recently intensified their campaign against doctors, hospitals and private clinics suspected of treating people wounded in pro-freedom rallies," the LCC said.

The group said that physicians were required to notify the security services of the arrival of any wounded person, regardless of the severity of their injuries.

Activists said some 250 doctors have been arrested since the anti-regime protest movement erupted mid-March, including 25 in the past few weeks.

The fresh wave of violence came as UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Syrian President Bashar Assad to stop the killing of civilians immediately and accept an international investigation into human rights violations.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said on Friday that more than 3,000 people, including 187 children, have been killed in the crackdown since the uprising started in mid-March.