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Syrian Opposition Launches New Anti-Government Protests

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Hula, near Homs, October 27, 2011.

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Hula, near Homs, October 27, 2011.

Opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have launched new rallies across the country.

Activists say at least one person was killed on Friday as the anti-government protests got underway.

The French news agency says a funeral for an army deserter evolved into an opposition rally in the northwestern Idlib province.

Opposition activists have urged protesters to rally for a "no fly" zone on Friday.

The activists made the call on social media sites, saying the flight restrictions are needed to help protect civilians from government forces.

Activists say at least eight people were killed in confrontations with Syrian security forces on Thursday. Some of the deaths occurred as forces carried out raids in the southern Daraa region. Also, activists say deadly clashes erupted in central Syria between the army and suspected deserters.

Also Thursday, thousands of supporters of President Bashar al-Assad rallied in the coastal city of Latakia, where some waved Syrian flags and chanted pro-government slogans. A similar demonstration took place in Damascus on Wednesday.

For months, anti-government protesters have been calling for Assad's departure. The 22-member Arab League is trying to facilitate dialogue between government and the opposition's newly formed Syrian National Council.

Assad met with an Arab League delegation on Wednesday. Syrian state media quoted the head of the delegation, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jasim bin Jabr al-Thani, as saying the talks were "cordial and frank." He said Arab officials will meet again with Assad on October 30.

The Syrian president has been facing growing international condemnation for his crackdown. The United Nations says the death toll has topped 3,000 during seven months of anti-government protests.

The Syrian government says armed gangs and "terrorists" are responsible for the majority of the violence.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.