Syrian forces open fire on funeral, activists say

Syrian forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad opened fire on crowds attending a funeral for three youths who were killed at a protest on Friday.

The funeral procession passed through the residential neighborhood of Mezze on Sunday, which the Wall Street Journal says houses several government offices and is near the presidential palace.

Witnesses said that up to 30,000 people took to the streets for the funeral, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least one person was shot dead and many others were injured.

"They started firing at the crowd right after burial," a witness from Mezze was quoted as saying by the ABC. "People are running and trying to take cover in the alleyways."

Reuters said that security forces were trying to prevent the funeral from turning into an anti-Assad demonstration.  Its report explains that until recently the most significant protests took place in provincial towns, but after Friday's mass demonstration, Assad appears to be losing his grip on Damascus.

Fifteen pick-up trucks carrying security police and armed militia surrounded the funeral; police cars and militia jeeps patrolled Mezze while secret police agents spread out on foot, randomly checking ID cards, the news agency says.

A total of 20 people were killed across Syria by government forces on Sunday, according to local activist network The Local Coordination Committees.

They included a senior state prosecutor and a judge who were killed in a guerilla-style ambush in the country's north, Associated Press quoted the Syrian state-run news agency as reporting.

AP also said that the attack suggests "armed factions are growing bolder and more coordinated in their uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime".

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