Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday rejected calls for his ouster and promised steps toward political reform, even as protesters and human rights groups said Syria was continuing its bloody crackdown aimed at ending an uprising.
Security forces finished their mission in Syria's coastal city of Latakia by "putting an end to the armed terrorist groups who terrified the safe citizens by their criminal acts" and were pulling out, the state-run news agency reported.
At least four people died and 17 others were injured by sniper shots as Syrian army and security forces gathered in the northwestern city of Banias, an eyewitness said Sunday, the same day state news reported an ambush on an armed forces unit that killed nine.
A day after demonstrations across Syria reportedly led to the deaths of more than three dozen protesters, the government in Damascus declared its intentions on Saturday to crack down hard on what it describes as unrest provoked by outside instigators.
Syria says it will study the idea of lifting the country's state of emergency and promptly investigate the deaths of civilians and troops in two flashpoint regions, the state news agency said on Thursday.
Syrian security forces flooded the restive cities of Daraa and Latakia on Monday, patrolling the streets, protecting government buildings and in at least one case clashing with protesters, according to witnesses.
A Gaza humanitarian convoy that includes passengers who survived a previous fatal flotilla incident has been delayed and is expected to set sail Monday in an attempt to deliver aid for Palestinians, organizers said.