Syrian protesters take inspiration from Libya

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The Syrian opposition is disparate and fragmented, with various parties vying for power as they seek an end to more than 40 years of iron rule by Assad and his late father, Hafez.

There have been some clashes in border regions between Syrian forces and apparent defectors from the military, but they have not been widespread.

Still, the growing signs of armed resistance may accelerate the cycle of violence gripping the country by giving the government a pretext to use even greater firepower against its opponents. Authorities have already used tanks, snipers and gangster-like gunmen known as “shabiha” who operate as hired guns for the regime.

The regime has sealed off the country and prevented independent media coverage, making it difficult to verify events on the ground.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group based in Britain, put Friday’s death toll at 14 nationwide. Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso said six people were killed in the central city of Homs, and there were reports of casualties in other areas as well.

In the Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, Syrian forces closed all mosques to prevent people from gathering. The weekly protests usually begin as Syrians pour out of mosques following Friday afternoon prayers.

Gadhafi’s death will boost the morale of Syrians,” Osso told the AP in a telephone interview. “It will make them continue until they bring down the regime.”

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Associated Press writer Bassem Mroue contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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