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Another Friday …The authorities in Syria are reportedly bracing for the possibility of huge protests throughout the country as more than 850 protesters have reportedly been killed and thousands have been jailed since the uprising began just over two months ago .

The Facebook group, The Syrian Revolution 2011, which boasts more than 180,000 followers and which has emerged as the organizing force behind the demonstrations that have been demanding “freedom” in Syria has called for nationwide protests this Friday May 20

The group posted this poster on its Facebook page . It called this Friday “Azadi ” Freedom in Kurdish” urging nationwide protests from Qamişlo ( Kurdish for Qamishli the largest Kurdish city in northern Syria ) to Daraa, Horan , the flashpoint of the Syrian uprising. The poster said: ” The people of Syria cannot be disgraced”

The Syrian government has been deploying tanks in all the cities that have been protesting against the regime and has been imitating the tactics used by other governments to suppress the demonstrations, particularly the methods used by the Libyan regime. They are also using professional snipers who target the heads of the demonstrators, using bullets that explode inside the victim’s head leaving horrible mutilations, in order to terrorize people. The government also continues to recruit “thugs”, pro-regime armed groups that are involved in trafficking of drugs and weapons, to spread chaos and create sectarian strife. Those thugs have been firing on people from speeding cars and motorcycles. They have also been infiltrating demonstrations to spread provocative sectarian slogans.

Syrian president Bashar al Assad is reportedly determined to crush the 9 week-old revolt, which is the gravest challenge to his family’s 40-year-old ruling dynasty.

The United States imposed sanctions on Assad and six other top aides for human rights abuses on Wednesday in a dramatic escalation of pressure on Syria to cease its brutal crackdown on protesters.

In addition to Assad, the Treasury said the sanctions would target Vice President Farouq al-Shara ( pictured with Assad, Prime Minister Adel Safar, Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar, Defense Minister Ali Habib as well as Abdul Fatah Qudsiya, the head of Syrian military intelligence, and Mohammed Dib Zaitoun, director of the political security directorate.

In his Middle East policy speech on Thursday , President Barack Obama said the Syrian President faces the choice of either leading a democratic transition in his country or getting out of the way.

Torture

“Syrian security is now releasing detainees with unhealed wounds caused by torture in order to spread panic and fear among people hoping it will reduce the numbers participating in demonstrations,” Wissam Tarif, Director of Insan, a leading Syrian human rights organization, which has documented cases of torture told al Jazeera

Across Syria a campaign of mass arrests since the uprising began in mid-March has seen more than 7,000 Syrians arbitrarily detained and thrown into prisons, according to a count by activists, contacting detainees’ family and friends.

In Daraa alone, state news reported some 500 people were arrested in one day, with security forces going door to door and seizing any male aged between 15 and 40. A recently leaked document, purportedly from Political Security, appears to confirm the mass arrests of males, including children, from Daraa.

Inside prison, detainees face what Human Rights Watch has described as “rampant torture”.

Amnesty International reported cases of detainees forced to lick blood off the floor of a prison and others who also drank toilet water after being starved for three days.

Insan said it has received numerous reports of torture where detainees have been left naked in groups for hours, doused in cold water before collectively being beaten.

“The use of unwarranted lethal force, arbitrary detention and torture appear to be the desperate actions of a government that is intolerant of dissent and must be halted immediately,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

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