Syrian opposition cancels authorized rally

Organizers of the first authorized mass rally in Syria since the lifting of a state of emergency last month cancelled the event on Monday citing an “external threat.”

A group of Syrian youths was expected to hold a silent candlelight vigil in downtown Damascus to commemorate about 900 people who have been reportedly killed since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime which began in mid-March.

“We were informed by the Interior Ministry that certain external forces had been planning to use the planned rally to destabilize the situation in the country,” the organizers said.

Syrian unrest began after a group of schoolchildren were arrested in March for writing anti-government slogans on walls. Protests against their arrest soon swept across the country and continue despite urgent political reforms and crackdown on demonstrators.

Syrian authorities claim the protests are organized by Islamic extremists seeking to seize power in the country.

The European Union on Monday imposed an assets freeze and a visa ban on Assad and nine members of his regime in addition to previous sanctions against 13 other government officials.

DAMASCUS, May 23 (RIA Novosti)

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