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International rights groups on Thursday reported mass arrests in Syria following the week long protests against the ruling regime.

More than 100 people were reportedly killed by police gunfire on Wednesday according to human rights activists and witnesses

“There are definitely more than 100 dead and the city will need a week to bury its martyrs,” said human rights activist Ayman al-Asswad in Daraa, reached by telephone from Nicosia.

Ya Libnan was unable to independently confirm the number of deaths , since communications with Daraa are extremely difficult .

“Our city is usually bustling at this time, but the streets are completely empty today,” Amal, a Daraa resident who is employed at a bank, told AFP by telephone.

“All our schools are closed, and I went to work this morning but went right back home,” she said. “There was no one there but the security guard.”

Amnesty International has compiled a list of 93 people, some for their online activities, arrested this month in the cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Banias, Daraa, Hama, Homs, and others.

“The real number of those arrested is likely to be considerably higher,” read an Amnesty press release.

They are believed to be aged between 14 and 45 and include students, intellectuals, journalists and activists.

London-based rights group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Thursday reported the arrest of 27-year-old blogger Ahmad Hadifa at his office in Damascus over his support for the Daraa protests via Facebook.

Hadifa had previously been detained for days last month over his blogging activities.

Daraa remained tense Thursday, with shops closed as anti-terrorism security forces patrolled the streets.

The Syrian Revolution 2011 called on Facebook for a nationwide protest on Friday March 25 . Many questions have been raised about the reluctance of other cities in joining the Daraa protests

Demands justified

Syria will take very important decisions soon, an adviser to President Assad said on Thursday over the anti-government protests in Daraa.

“The demands of the people of Daraa are under study and concern. They are justified,” Bouthaina Shaaban said. “The coming period will witness important decisions on all levels,” she told reporters according to Reuters

Photo: Syrian soldiers gesture to a photographer in the town of Daraa. International rights groups have reported mass arrests in Syria.

Agencies

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