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Syrian Security Forces Break Up Damascus Protest

Carrying pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad, a group of Syrians, some supporters of Assad, right, and some opposed to his regime, left, stage a protest outside the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt, March 15, 2011

Witnesses in the Syrian capital, Damascus, say security forces armed with batons have dispersed an opposition protest calling for the release of political prisoners.

The witnesses say Syrian security personnel moved in to break up Wednesday's rally by about 150 activists near the Interior Ministry, detaining at least five of them.

Some of the protesters held signs calling for the release of political prisoners and greater freedoms in the authoritarian state, led by President Bashar Assad. He has held the post since 2000, when he succeeded his late father.

It was the second day that a small group of opposition activists had gathered in Damascus, trying to join a wave of uprisings against autocratic rulers in other Arab nations.

Syria's opposition has been unable to stage large protests in part due to intensified government intimidation and arrests of dissidents in recent weeks.

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

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