Syrian protesters test fragile truce

The Associated Press reports: In the first major test of a U.N.-brokered truce, tens of thousands of Syrians poured into the streets Friday for anti-government protests, activists said. Security forces used live fire, tear gas and beat some protesters, but there was no immediate sign of widescale shelling, sniper attacks or other potential violations of the cease-fire.

At least three protesters were shot dead by security forces, activists said.

President Bashar Assad’s regime has cracked down on protest rallies in the past and suggested it would not allow them to resume Friday, insisting protesters need to seek permission first. Syrian forces tightened security in public squares and outside mosques.

A major outbreak of violence at a chaotic rally could give government forces a pretext for ending the peace plan, which aims to calm a year-old uprising that has killed 9,000 people and pushed the country toward civil war.

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