BEIRUT: Thousands of antigovernment protesters took to the streets across Syria on Monday after a TV appearance by president Assad, shouting for him to step down and chanting “Gaddafi is gone, now it’s your turn Bashar!”
Security forces opened fire in Homs, killing at least one person, a witness said. Crowds there and in several other cities were angered by Assad’s remarks on TV and taunted him with warnings that his regime would be the next to unravel, as Muammar Gaddafi’s 42-year rule was crumbling under a rebel advance in Libya. Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed in the government’s crackdown on a five-month-old uprising. The regime has unleashed tanks and snipers in an attempt to stamp out the revolt.
In a now-familiar refrain, Assad promised reforms – including parliamentary elections by Feb – but insisted unrest was being driven by armed gangs & Islamic militants , not reform seekers.