A 'Day of Rage' Begins in Syria

Protests erupt as, coincidentally, AP report suggests Syria had a secret nuclear reactor

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Last Friday, clashes between Syrian security forces and protesters after Friday prayers reportedly left over 100 people dead. A week later, after the Syrian regime escalated its crackdown by sending tanks into Syrian streets, mass demonstrations are again erupting across the country, prompting analysts to predict another showdown.

Yesterday, Syrian activists called for "day of rage" protests after Friday prayers, telling the "youths of the revolution" on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page that "tomorrow we will be in all the places, in all the streets ... We will gather at the besieged towns, including with our brothers in Daraa." The opposition Muslim Brotherhood, which was crushed in 1982 in the town of Hama by former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad, joined the activists for the first time in supporting the protests. Meanwhile, Syria's information minister, Adnan Mahmud, told AFP that the Syrian authorities were "determined to restore security, stability and peace to the citizens" and the Interior Ministry warned Syrians not to participate in the protests. Al Jazeera is already reporting clashes between security forces and protesters in cities like Latakia (the photo above shows a demonstration today in the port city of Banias).

The standoff is taking place as the U.N. Human Rights Council discusses Syria in Geneva and the European Union confers in Brussels about sanctions against the Syrian regime. What's more, Syria's attracting international scrutiny for another reason today. The International Atomic Energy Agency is preparing a report suggesting that a Syrian target bombed by Israeli warplanes back in 2007 was probably a secret nuclear reactor designed to produce plutonium, according to an AP report. The mysterious bombing was the subject of an investigative piece by The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh in 2008.

Already today, Syrian activists appear to have hacked the Syrian parliament's website, posting calls for protests and video, according to Syrian activist Wissam Tarif. The website Tarif linked to is currently not responding, but we captured a screen shot earlier in the morning:

Video is also emerging. This video, posted by Al Jazeera, shows a demonstration in Homs:

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