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Protesters in Syria Launch Week Of Antigovernment Demonstrations

Antigovernment protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by security forces in the capital, Damascus, on April 29.
Antigovernment protesters in Syria today launched what they call a "week of breaking the seige," just days after deadly clashes were seen on April 29 during the "day of rage" called for by the opposition.

Government troops shelled the southern city of Daraa on April 30, reportedly killing several people and taking over the city's mosque, a key point of opposition activity.

Activists say rallies are planned in the northern towns of Banias and Jableh on May 3, in Homs on May 4, and in cities near the country's Lebanese border on May 5 in conjunction with a nationwide vigil.

Embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has launched a brutal crackdown in an effort to crush the rising opposition activity sparked by unrest in Egypt and other Arab countries.

Rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed in the violence.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Program has announced it is postponing consideration of an aid plan for Syria because of the turmoil there.

The move followed a sharp attack by a senior U.S. Republican congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, on the proposed program, which she said could benefit Assad's regime.

compiled from agency reports