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Tensions have mounted further since the last large-scale marches, in late December, which brought the most violent battles with security riots in months. At least eight people were killed in clashes between protesters and police, and security forces have intensified arrests in the weeks since.

In January, two people who were put on trial alongside opposition politicians and protesters were executed for allegedly plotting to overthrow the state. Authorities have announced that 10 other opposition supporters have also been sentenced to death — a move many believe was aimed at intimidating protesters.

AP correspondent Scheherezade Faramarzi in Beirut and Ali Akbar Dareini in Dubai contributed to this report.