April 16 - Hundreds rally in the Syrian capital ahead of the country's Independence Day to show solidarity with embattled President Bashar al-Assad. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Flag-waving crowds rally in the Syrian capital Wednesday to show loyalty to President Bashar al-Assad ahead of Independence Day celebrations. They want to send a message of solidarity with the government and the army. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DAMASCUS RESIDENT, AYAT SHOUKEIR, SAYING: "Today I came here to show my love for my country and the leader of the country. We came for Independence Day." Syria gained its independence from France on April 17 in 1946. The day is traditionally marked with nationwide celebrations. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) DAMASCUS RESIDENT, NIRMIN MANSOUR, SAYING: "Today we came to cheer for the leader Bashar Hafez al-Assad and to tell him that we are with you and that we will vote for you. We want to tell him that we will be with you no matter what happens." Syria's civil war has torn the country apart, killing more than 150,000 people, a third of them civilians.