Update: Syrian activists are now telling news outlets that as many as 70 people were killed in Syria's "Great Friday" protests today, in what Al Jazeera is calling "the bloodiest day since the uprising began." On Twitter, U.S.-based Syrian human rights activist Mohammed Al Abdallah, citing a higher death toll, marveled, "Almost 100 Syrian killed today and still no news on state-run news agency about what's happening in Syria." State television, according to Al Jazeera, is airing a talk show where commentators are condemning foreign media--including Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic--for instigating the protests. The Guardian points out that the protesters' demands vary from place to place: "There is as yet no clear agreement on what that aim is: accelerated democratic reform, greater economic opportunity, an end to corruption among Syria's wealthy elite, or all-out regime change."
On Thursday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad officially lifted Syria's state of emergency law in an effort to quell pro-democracy protests in the country. The move, which many opposition leaders dismissed as symbolic, didn't work. Tens of thousands of Syrians protested across Syria today after noon prayers, with security forces firing tear gas and live ammunition at demonstrators in Damascus and at least 10 other towns and cities. The death toll, which is currently reported to be in the forties, will likely rise.
As the bloody day unfolds, Western journalists barred from Syria are relying heavily on accounts from activists, witnesses, and social networking sites for their reporting (the picture above, for example, was taken on a mobile phone in the coastal city of Banias). The amateur videos surfacing today on YouTube paint a vivid picture of the clashes between protesters and security forces (videos uploaded to Facebook shows protesters taking cover from gunfire, among other images, some disturbing):
In this video, uploaded by activist Wissam Tarif, protesters clog the streets outside the capital, Damascus, chanting "people want to topple the regime":
In this shaky footage, highlighted by Al Jazeera and uploaded by ziyadfreefree, protesters take cover from bullets in the city of Homs:
NPR's Andy Carvin points to this video from DammySouri, in which pro- and anti-government protesters tussle in Hasakah, Syria:
Twitter user rabunasser calls attention to footage from DaraaMH capturing protesters replacing a sign for the Assad Hospital with a banner declaring, "Return Golan," in reference to Israel's control over the Golan Heights.