SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 25, 2011

Syria troops try to calm tension but rally planned

ZEINA KARAM
Associated Press

DARAA, Syria — Security forces appear to be trying to reduce tension in a Syrian city where authorities launched a deadly, weeklong crackdown on protesters.

Syrian troops have dismantled checkpoints in the southern city of Daraa and there was no visible army presence on the streets for the first time since last Friday.

On Thursday, the government pledged to consider lifting some of the country's most repressive laws in an attempt to stop the weeklong uprising in Daraa and prevent it from spreading.

But many activists rejected those promises and called for demonstrations around the country on Friday.

Protests were planned in Daraa and in the nation's capital, Damascus on Friday afternoon. Organizers have dubbed it a "Day of Dignity."