10 Jul 2011

More protests in Syria

3:45 pm on 10 July 2011

Protesters have again taken to the streets in cities across Syria, rejecting an offer by the government of a national dialogue.

Several people are reported to have been killed by the security services during the demonstrations in the capital, Damascus, and a police officer was reported to have been killed in Homs.

The BBC reports the American and French ambassadors visited the city of Hama, where thousands gathered in a city square.

Hama was the scene of a crackdown in 1982 ordered by Hafez al-Assad, the president's late father, which left at least 10,000 dead.

At least 60 people were shot dead in Hama during protests on 3 June.

More than 1400 civilians and 350 security forces personnel are reported to have been killed across the country since March.

The government has blamed ''armed criminal gangs'' for the unrest.

Meanwhile, officials have said there will be more than 200 delegates to a national dialogue conference on Sunday and Monday, including people from the opposition, the ruling Baath Party, and independents.

State media have reported that amendments to the constitution will be on the agenda at the meeting, including Article 8, which grants the Baath Party unique status as the "leader of state and society".

Participants will also reportedly examine proposed new laws on political parties, elections, local administration and the press.