Middle East

Syria unrest: Thousands march in Deraa

Media captionThe BBC's Frank Gardner describes amateur video of protests on Sunday

Thousands of demonstrators have marched through the southern Syrian city of Deraa calling for greater freedoms.

The march follows the funeral of a man killed on Sunday, when security forces opened fire on protesters.

The demonstrators had set fire to buildings including the offices of the country's ruling Baath Party.

There have been days of violent clashes between anti-government protesters and security forces in the city, leaving at least four people dead on Friday alone.

France has again condemned the Syrian government's efforts to suppress the protests.

"France condemns the violence in which several people have died and many have been injured among the ranks of the demonstrators who gathered in Deraa on Friday, Saturday and Sunday," Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said at a press briefing.

He urged the country to release all those detained for taking part in protests or "on account of their views or their actions in defence of human rights".

On Monday, the crowd was reported to have been dispersed by riot police armed with batons, the Associated Press reports.

Mourners at the funeral of 23-year-old Raed al-Kerad, who died on Sunday, chanted slogans calling for an end to corruption in the country.

"God, Syria, freedom," they shouted. "The people want the overthrow of corruption."

Reuters reports that hundreds of people also staged a sit-in another southern town, Jassem.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Baath party has dominated politics in the country for almost 50 years, tolerates little dissent and authorities, correspondents say, are using a combination of force and concessions to try to prevent further protests.

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