Thousands called for liberty on Thursday in the southern Syrian city of Daraa, defying a deadly government crackdown as they took to the streets in funeral marches for protesters killed by police gunfire, an activist said.The activist in contact with residents of Daraa told The Associated Press that massive crowds shouted ???Syria, freedom!??? as they marched toward one of the agricultural hub???s main cemeteries.Others in Daraa held a sit???in to protest the killing of 15 people in clashes between security forces and anti???government protesters, the activist said.The situation in Daraa was still tense, with a heavy armed presence in the streets as dozens of people demonstrated in the al???Mahata neighbourhood near the city centre.Inspired by the wave of pro???democracy protests around the region, the uprising in Daraa and at least four nearby villages has become the biggest domestic challenge since the 1970s to the Syrian government, one of the most repressive in the Middle East. Security forces have responded with water cannon, tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition.Syrian police launched a relentless assault Wednesday on a neighbourhood sheltering anti???government protesters, fatally shooting at least 15 in an operation that lasted nearly 24 hours, witnesses said. The total death toll now stands at 22.Abdul???Karim Rihawi, who heads the Syrian Human Rights League, said authorities had begun a campaign of detentions against activists, writers and bloggers in different parts of Syria.Mr. Rihawi said the last to be detained was Mazen Darwish, a journalist who headed the independent Syrian Media Centre. He said Mr. Darwish was summoned to a security office on Wednesday noon and has not been seen since then. Also detained were well???known writer Loay Hussein and blogger Ahmad Hdaithi.???These arrests will only increase tension,??? Mr. Rihawi said.A statement posted on Thursday on the Facebook page ???The Syrian Revolution 2011??? held Syrian authorities led b
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