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Protests show Syria more divided

From Nic Robertson, CNN
updated 8:41 PM EST, Mon January 9, 2012
  • NEW: 24 killed in Syria on Monday, opposition group says
  • Al-Assad will make a speech on Tuesday, state-run media reports
  • Seven "martyrs" from government forces are buried Monday, officials say
  • A citizen in Hama was killed by "an armed terrorist group," Syrian state media says

Damascus, Syria (CNN) -- Opposing protests Monday highlighted Syria's new reality: The country is more divided today than it was just a few months ago.

In Damascus, a large pro-government rally felt like a celebration, with a festival atmosphere as demonstrators hailed President Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, just outside the capital, a funeral procession and anti-Assad rally was filled with anger. Participants showed CNN what they said were gunshot wounds from forces loyal to al-Assad.

A CNN team is inside Syria, able to witness some events on the ground after a long period of the Syrian regime refusing the entry of international journalists.

However, the CNN crew's equipment for live broadcasting was confiscated upon arrival. And a government minder is assigned to the team, though he has not accompanied the team at every turn.

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CNN followed monitors from the Arab League to the funeral procession.

Tens of thousands of people turned out, holding up pictures and lining the streets. Many were in tears.

At one funeral, crowds chanted, "Overthrow Assad, overthrow the regime!" They blamed the man's death on government forces.

At a separate funeral in Damascus, another crowd mourned a man, this time chanting slogans supporting al-Assad and blaming that death on opposition forces.

Twenty-four people were killed Monday in Syria, according to opposition activists with the Local Coordination Committees of Syria. The deaths include 13 in Homs, eight in Idlib, one in a Damascus suburb, one in Deir Ezzor and one in Hama, the group said.

CNN has not been given permission to travel to Homs, where a great deal of violence has been reported for months.

State-run news agency SANA reported that seven "martyrs" from the army and security forces were buried Monday.

SANA also said a citizen was killed by "an armed terrorist group" in Hama.

Al-Assad will make a speech Tuesday, addressing developments in the country, SANA reported.

Violence and death have become a daily part of life in parts of Syria amid the government's crackdown on an uprising.

A blast on Friday killed 26. The government said the suicide bombing, which also wounded more than 60 people, was a terrorist attack.

There were dozens of deaths over the weekend that opposition activists attributed to regime forces.

Thousands have been reported killed by security forces throughout the uprising, despite ongoing international pressure on the Syrian regime to halt the crackdown. Death estimates range between 5,000 to 6,000.

Arab League officials are scrambling to end the bloodshed.

The alliance on Sunday decided to bolster its mission to Syria.

In a statement released after a meeting in Cairo, the alliance condemned violence against civilians and pledged to add to its 165 observers already in the country.

Al-Assad's regime insists it is operating against armed terrorists, whom it blames for the bloodshed.

Syria's Foreign Ministry said the government has not hidden anything from the Arab League monitors.

The Arab League fact-finding mission under way in the nation is part of a larger initiative to end security forces' attacks on peaceful protesters.

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