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Syria Live Coverage: Defiance in Damascus

Saturday's funeral in Mezzeh in Damascus, before it was attacked by security forces (see bottom of entry)

See also Sunday's Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Violence Escalates
Saturday's Syria, Bahrain (and Beyond) Live Coverage: The Story Gets Out

1615 GMT: Activists claim Syrian security forces, to prevent a "day of defiance" around a funeral in Mezzeh in Damascus (see 0545 GMT), occupied the neighbourhood.

At least one person was slain and four wounded on Saturday at a funeral in Mezzeh for an earlier victim of the violence.

Mohammed Shami, a spokesperson for activists in Damascus Province, said most shops were shut in Mezzeh as well as in the Barzeh, Qaboun, Kafarsouseh, and Jobar districts. Student demonstrations had been expected but security forces were stationed around schools.

Activist Abu Huzaifa said police forced the family of Samer al-Khatib, 34, who died after being shot in neck on Saturday, to bury him in a small ceremony early in the day. Footage of the procession:

State television showed live interviews from Mezzeh with people who claimed life was proceeding normally.

1248 GMT: The opposition Local Coordination Committees say 14 people have died today --- nine in Idlib, three in Homs, and one each in Deir Ez Zor and Daraa.

1223 GMT: The Egyptian state news agency MENA reports that Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr has decided, during a meeting with the Egyptian Ambassador to Syria, to keep the envoy in Cairo until further notice.

1220 GMT: Sounds of shelling of the Bab Amro section of Homs, in the 17th straight day of a regime assault:

1040 GMT: The opposition Local Coordination Committees say that at least 295 doctors have been arrested during the 11 months of the uprising.

1000 GMT: Syrian State news agency SANA claims that gunmen assassinated senior prosecutor Nidal Ghazal and Judge Mohammed Ziadeh in Idlib Province in the northwest today.

SANA said the killings came a day after gunmen shot dead Jamal al-Bish, a member of the Aleppo City Council.

0905 GMT: Leading businessman Faisal al-Qudsi has said the economy is being crippled by foreign sanctions and the government is slowly disintegrating.

Al-Qudsi, the son of a former Syrian president, told the BBC that military action could only last six months --- "the army is getting tired and will go nowhere" --- and then there would be "millions of people on the streets", even though the Assad regime would fight to the end.

Al-Qudsi said, "Effectively the foreign exchange reserves of the central bank have come down from $22 billion to about $10 billion, and they are dwindling very rapidly."

He continued, "The apparatus of the government is slowly disintegrating and it's almost non-existent in trouble spots like Homs, Idlib, Deraa. Courts are not there; police are not interested in any sort of crime and it is affecting the government very, very badly."

0545 GMT: Saturday in Syria was punctuated by dramatic scenes in the Mezzeh section of Damascus. In the falling snow, tens of thousands of people turned out for the funeral of a victim of the security forces.

The mourning soon tuned into spirited protest, with the crowd chanting, ""With our souls and blood, we sacrifice for you, Homs". Then the security forces took the drama to a new level, suddenly firing above and at massed thousands. Chaos followed, as people fled into side streets and alleys.

Only one man was killed and four wounded in the snap assault --- surprisingly low numbers, given the size of the crowd --- but the visual points had been established. Demonstrations are now at the centre of the Syrian capital. Large, loud demonstrations. And these in turn will bring the violent reaction --- from nerves, from frustration, or from plans to break up the protests --- of the security forces.

The cycle is established. By killing at least one person, President Assad's men have created another funeral. And another funeral is another occasion for defiance. And another occasion for defiance....

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