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Syrian President to Address Cabinet

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)

Syrian officials say President Bashar al-Assad will address his new Cabinet on Saturday and his speech will be broadcast to the nation.

Assad unveiled a 30-member Cabinet on Thursday. On the same day, he ordered the release of activists detained during recent anti-government protests, in an apparent bid to ease opposition unrest.

Meanwhile, witnesses and rights group say mourners gathered in the coastal city of Banias on Saturday for the funeral of a man that they say was shot by pro-government forces during a protest on Sunday. Some mourners chanted in favor of freedom.

Separately, Syria's state-run news agency said a policeman was beaten to death by protesters Friday in the central city of Homs.

SANA reported Saturday that the police officer was hit with sticks and stones during a pro-democracy demonstration that had turned violent.

Protests flared across Syria on Friday. The biggest demonstration was in the southern city of Daraa, which has become the epicenter of the opposition.

The demonstrations, which began last month, have turned violent at times as protesters have clashed with security forces. Human rights groups say more than 200 people have been killed as authorities cracked down on the protests. Syrian officials have blamed some of the unrest on lawless gangs.

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

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