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Anti-Assad protests persist for fourth day

“Protesters called for freedom and toppling of the regime as a result of popular anger over the deteriorating economic, social, security and political situation,” said Noura al-Basha, a resident and activist.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, centre right, speaks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, centre left, in Damascus. Russia has been a major ally of Assad, helping retake important cities from rebels.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, centre right, speaks with Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, centre left, in Damascus. Russia has been a major ally of Assad, helping retake important cities from rebels.Credit:AP

For the first time since the protests began, dozens of government supporters organised a counter-demonstration in front of the provincial government offices, where they criticised a wave of new, tighter US sanctions, known as the Caesar Act, which takes effect later this month.

Syrian authorities blame Western sanctions for widespread hardship among ordinary residents, where the currency collapse has led to soaring prices and people struggling to afford food and basic supplies.

State media made no mention of the opposition protest.

Sweida city had been spared the unrest seen in other parts of Syria since the start of the conflict and has remained in government hands.

The majority Druze population has long resisted being drawn into the conflict that pits mainly Sunni rebels against Assad’s rule.

Reuters

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