Opposition claims Ba'athists staged rally in Homs by bringing in people from outside of the city
"Syria's security forces yesterday opened fire on demonstrators, killing at least seven people just a day after President al-Assad pledged to engage in a "national dialogue" [With bullets, that is!] to safeguard the country's now precarious future.
This new round of civilian bloodshed, the latest in Syria's 12-week insurrection, came as the Ba'athist regime attempted to shore up its tottering government by rallying its own supporters onto the streets. Tens of thousands of people, many waving Syrian flags and chanting pro-government slogans, gathered in city squares across the country.
A witness said that around 10,000 regime supporters arrived in the central Syrian city of Homs yesterday. "Nobody knows them, they are strangers to the city, they were asking for directions," the witness told the Associated Press news agency.
Another activist in Homs told The Independent there had been clashes between the pro and anti-government demonstrators. "I tried to get into the city centre today but I couldn't," said the man. "Some of the roads are blocked by anti-government people and others are blocked by pro-government people, including the police force."
During the stand-off, a number of civilians were killed by bursts of machine-gun fire. There were also reports that the security services were arresting injured demonstrators.
Despite the large pro-government demonstrations, many activists said the rallies bore the familiar hallmarks of an organised Ba'athist protest. Radwan Ziadeh, a US-based human-rights activist, said: "It's orchestrated by the Syrian regime to show that Bashar al-Assad still has some popularity in Syria and some people support him. But it's a failed strategy."....."