Syrian security forces dispersed about 150 people who had gathered in front of the
Interior Ministry in central Damascus on Wednesday to demand the release of political prisoners, a Reuters witness said.
Scores of plain-clothed security forces charged the gathering with batons and at least one demonstrator suffered a gash on his head. At least five protesters have been detained by security forces.
The gathering in Marjeh square, an Ottoman-era square in the center of the capital, had been silent, with protesters raising pictures of their imprisoned relatives and friends, before security forces started hitting them.
The protest dispersed after the clash, and security forces continued arresting more people and shoving them into a bus and a darkened van.
A brief counter-demonstration then started, with people chanting: “With our soul, with our blood, we shall sacrifice for Bashar,” in reference to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday about 40 people joined a protest in Damascus, briefly chanting political slogans in the first challenge to the ruling Baath Party since protests and civil unrest swept across the Middle East.