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Syrian Forces Crack Down on Protesters

People protest against President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in the city of Amude, Syria, August 26, 2011

Syrian activists say forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have clashed with anti-government protesters in Damascus and several other cities.

Activists said Saturday that pro-government forces had attacked demonstrators leaving a mosque in the capital. They also say security forces killed one person at an opposition rally in the northern Idlib province.

However, the Syrian government has denied reports of protests in the capital. The state-run SANA news agency says foreign news organizations "fabricated" the stories.

In a separate development, the Arab League is discussing Syria's crisis at a meeting in Cairo Saturday.

The United Nations says more than 2,000 people have died in the country during the government's crackdown on dissent. President Assad has blamed much of the violence on what he calls armed "gangs" and "terrorists."

On Friday, rights groups and activists said security forces shot at protesters in areas that included the Damascus suburb of Douma, Dara'a province in the south and the eastern town of Deir Ezzor. They said at least three people were killed.

However, Syria countered by saying "hooded gunmen" opened fire on law enforcement officers in Deir Ezzor, wounding three officers. SANA said law enforcement officers responded by shooting and killing two of the gunmen. The news agency also said "gunmen" attacked a security building in Douma, wounding two guards.

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