Syria was on Tuesday braced for the start of "Martyrs Week", a series of rallies organized by a Facebook group in honor of those killed in security clampdowns on pro-reform demonstrations.
"The Week of the Martyrs will be a thorn in the regime's side," the organizers of Facebook group Syrian Revolution 2011 said, designating Tuesday as the first day of protests focused on coastal towns "far from the capital".
Activists estimate more than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, mainly in Daraa and the port city of Latakia, since political unrest erupted March 15.
Officials have put the death toll at closer to 30, blaming the violence on "armed" groups and foreign interference seeking to divide a country that has long prided itself on the co-existence of different religions and ethnic groups.
"We announced (the protests) as peaceful and insist on that," said Syrian Revolution 2011, which has garnered more than 100,000 supporters online and proved a persistent motor of anti-regime rallies.
President Bashar al-Assad, who is facing a domestic crisis unprecedented in 11 years of rule, has made a string of gestures hinting at change but has failed to appease protesters who are demanding greater freedom and political reforms.
A cousin of Syrian president living in exile warned Monday that Syria risks descending into a civil war if the government does not bow to demands that it carry out democratic reforms.
He has made a string of gestures hinting at change but has failed to assuage protesters who are demanding greater freedom and political reforms.
"The government is trying to buy time," said his cousin Ribal al-Assad, the head of the London-based Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria.
"But we are going to keep up pressure because if we give it up, they will let things remain as they have been for the past 40 years," he said.
"We are not going to stop until they listen to the people and I think this way we will achieve change. We have to hope that it is possible to have change with Bassar al-Assad in power," he told Spain's radio Cadena Ser.
A new governor was appointed on Monday to the Syrian protest hub of Daraa, where dozens died in protests marred by violence, while a newspaper said a commission probing fatalities in protest centers will wrap up its work by Friday.
Syrian authorities have also promised to lift the state of emergency without specifying when but the daily newspaper al-Watan, which is close to power, has said "new legislation" to replace emergency rule would be ready by Friday.
The Facebook group also called for a boycott of cell phone companies on Wednesday, a rally against the ruling Baath party on Thursday outside its Damascus headquarters, and countrywide demonstrations on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency said Syrian authorities have freed one of its photographers after holding him for six days.
Reuters said the 50-year-old Khaled al-Hariri was freed Sunday and told colleagues that he was well.
Al-Hariri was one of four Reuters journalists held over the last week in Syria. The other three have already been released and ordered to leave the country.
A fifth Reuters journalist was expelled by Syrian authorities on March 25 after five years as the agency's correspondent in Damascus.
Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said al-Hariri, a Syrian, has returned home to his family.