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Thousands of Israeli Arabs rally against Assad

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 17 Feb 2012 07:22 PM
Author: Reuters
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JERUSALEM, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Thousands of Israeli Arabs demonstrated against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Friday, calling for him to step down and end his violent suppression of a nationwide revolt.

Chanting "Bashar al-Assad leave" and "Let the people live", protesters in the northern town of Kafr Kanna set fire to posters of the Syrian president.

Assad has shown no sign of easing his campaign to stamp out an 11-month uprising against his rule. His forces on Friday resumed attacks on opposition strongholds in the city of Homs, which has now been under fire for two weeks.

The United Nations says more than 5,400 civilians have been killed in the uprising and the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday told Assad to stop the violence and surrender power.

Syrian authorities say they are fighting foreign-backed "terrorists".

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said on Thursday he expected Assad to fall "within weeks".

Last month Israel's army chief Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz said the Jewish state was preparing to take refugees from Assad's minority Alawite sect into the Golan Heights, in the event of the president's downfall.

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. Despite the fact that the two countries have never made peace, the Golan frontier has largely been quiet. (Reporting by Ammar Awad; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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