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Syrian Forces Release 300 People In Banias

Protesters during a demonstration after Friday Prayers in the port city of Banias on May 6
Human rights observers in Syria say the government has released 300 people in a coastal city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say those released had been detained last week when tanks and troops entered Banias.

The Observatory said water, telephone lines, and electricity were now back on in the city. Tanks still reportedly remain on the streets and 200 pro-democracy activists remain detained.

Human rights campaigners said at least six civilians, including four women, were killed in raids on Sunni neighborhoods in the mixed-faith city.

Presidential adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said security forces were reacting to armed militants who had manipulated "the legitimate demands of the people."

Speaking to a "New York Times" correspondent allowed into the country for a few hours, Shaaban expressed his government's hope that the "most dangerous moment" had passed.

compiled from agency reports