VIDEO - Syrian security forces opened fire in the coastal town of Banias on Sunday, killing some people and wounding others, witnesses told AFP.
"Syrian security forces have been firing for the last two hours in the neighbourhood of Ras al-Nabee where there is the Al-Rahman mosque," a focal point of demonstrations, a witness told AFP, saying four were wounded.
Another witness reported "many dead and wounded" without providing any numbers.
An unprecedented opposition movement erupted in Syria on March 15 challenging the regime of President Bashar Assad, who has been in power since 2000.
Assad said Sunday that the country is "moving ahead on the road of comprehensive reforms," the state-run news agency SANA said. In recent weeks, Assad has answered the protesters with both force and limited concessions that have failed to appease an emboldened movement inspired by the Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Despite Assad's attempts to limit the reports of the protests against him, videos posted on YouTube document the cruelty of his security forces against the protestors. A clip uploaded on Sunday shows an ambulance hit by sniper fire in the city of Daraa.
One of the ambulance's passengers was injured from the shooting and was immediately evacuated from the area for medical treatment.
Sunday's gunfire in Banias, according to both witnesses, came from the Alawite neighbourhood of Al-Quz.
A rights activist, who requested anonymity citing security concerns, said the shots were aimed at the mosque and left seven people hurt.
Five people had already been wounded in a drive-by shooting carried out by plainclothes agents of the Syrian government in the Mediterranean coastal town, according to a witness.
Seven cars "carrying people sent by the regime arrived in front of the Abu Bakr al-Sidiq mosque and their occupants opened fire," the witness had said.
The perpetrators quickly took flight although witnesses were able to take down the licence plates of some of their vehicles.
"The people behind this shooting are regime thugs and their names are known to us," the witness said.
He added peaceful demonstrations had been held in Banias on Saturday afternoon.
Residents of Banias had "agreed to climb on their roofs at 10:00 pm to call in a single voice for the fall of the regime, but by 8:30 all landlines and cell phones were cut."
The witness said residents had set up checkpoints to protect their neighbourhoods against similar violence.
AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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