France is considering providing communications equipment to Syrian rebels to encourage a “stronger revolt” against President Bashar al-Assad’s government as major powers look for an alternative to a U.N. peace plan, its foreign minister said on Friday.
Laurent Fabius said France fully supported Arab League-U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan but that it was also looking at other options.
“There is Annan’s effort but we are also considering - and the Americans have done this - not giving weapons but providing communications equipment so that a stronger revolt develops amongst the population,” Fabius told France Inter radio.
At least 19 people were killed in violence across Syria on Friday reported the Revolution Council.
And with the uprising against the Syrian regime entering its 16th month, thousands of people took to the streets across the country calling on President Bashar al-Assad to quit power, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Two demonstrators were killed in the neighborhood of Salah al-Din in Aleppo,” Syria’s second city and northern economic hub, the Britain-based Observatory said.
An explosion outside a mosque killed eight people in the town of Busra al-Sham in the southern province of Daraa, considered the cradle of the uprising against the Assad regime, the watchdog said.
Another explosion was reported in the Al-Midan neighborhood of the capital Damascus, but there were reports of injuries, it added.
But a civilian was shot dead by a sniper in the Harasta neighborhood of the capital on Friday, according to the Observatory.
And in the central province of Homs, a civilian and an officer were killed amid ongoing gunfire and shelling attacks on the rebel-held town of Rastan, the Observatory said.
Government troops have been trying to regain control of Rastan “for months,” said the Observatory, as well as parts of Homs city and the town of Andan in Aleppo which all have fallen into rebels’ hands.
Two civilians were killed on Friday as troops and rebels clashed over Homs city and Andan, the Observatory said.
Fighting between rebels and regime forces also took place near the military intelligence headquarters and a police station in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, it said.
Meanwhile the Local Coordination Committees which organize anti-regime protests uploaded videos of demonstrations across Syria in front of mosques which many featuring slogans denouncing Russia’s support of the Syrian regime.
As on nearly every Friday since the uprising began, activists had called for nationwide demonstrations after weekly Muslim prayers, with this week’s slogan being “Always prepared for a strong mobilization.”
One video from Idlib showed hundreds of demonstrators shouting slogans against the regime as some in the crowd held opposition flags and a sign reading “Death to Russia”.
The Observatory said “thousands demonstrated Friday” in the central city of Hama and on the road to Aleppo, also denouncing Russian support for the Assad regime.
More than 14,400 have been killed since the revolt began in March last year, according to the Observatory’s figures.