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Syrian, Yemen opposition buoyed by Gadhafi death

From Arwa Damon and Mohammad Jamjoom, CNN
October 21, 2011 -- Updated 1727 GMT (0127 HKT)
  • NEW: At least 24 dead in Syrian protests
  • Protesters in Syria and Yemen seized on Moammar Gadhafi's death in demonstrations Friday
  • Demonstrators in Syria chant "it's your turn, Bashar."
  • Thousands protest in Yemen's capital and other cities

(CNN) -- Inspired by the death of deposed Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi in Libya, demonstrators took to the streets of Syria and Yemen on Friday filled with a renewed sense of purpose to end the regimes there.

In Syria, protesters flooded streets in Homs, Idlib and other areas, congratulating the Libyan people and warning their own ruler that he could soon meet the same fate. "Now Gadhafi is done, done! It is your turn Bashar!" they chanted.

Security forces raided areas in Jisr Al-Shoghour and fired on homes in the Bab Amr neighborhood in Homs with machine guns, vehicle-mounted weapons and anti-aircraft guns, the Local Coordinating Committees, a Syrian opposition group that organizes protests, reported. It said a total of 24 people died across the country in the fighting. CNN cannot independently verify events inside of Syria.

In Yemen, demonstrations broke out in 17 provinces and in the capital city of Sanaa, where thousands of demonstrators took to Change Square. They flew the Libyan revolutionary flag and chanted, "Saleh the killer look at where Gadhafi is now; his forces could not save his life." Women in the crowd carried roses, a symbol of peaceful revolution in Yemen.

"Saleh will not sleep after seeing what happened to Gadhafi," Ahmed Bahri, head of the political circle in the opposition Haq party said. "He knows Gadhafi was more powerful than him but still fell."

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Mohammed al-Salami, a youth activist in Sanaa, called the ongoing demonstrations across the Middle East and Africa "the era of the people."

"We will not accept being ruled by families who want to take our wealth," he said. "Saleh knows he will fall and he is panicking and killing innocent people."

The Syrian movement to oust President Bashar al-Assad seized on Libya's tale of a populist uprising chasing a widely despised tyrant into a sewer drain.

"The Libyan people chased the Libyan colonel like he said he would chase them... chased him into a sewage drain... and now your turn has come doctor, from the people you described as germs," the Syrian Revolution Facebook page said.

"Wonder if you¹ll be able to buy time and get away with your own skin like Ben Ali did... or will you stand behind bars like the deposed Mubarak.... or will you run like Gadhafi ran and your people will chase you down?"

Hosni Mubarak is Egypt's toppled leader and Zine Abedine Ben Ali is Tunisia's former ruler. The phrase "doctor" is a reference to al-Assad's profession, ophthalmology.

Syrian demonstrators chanted in support of the Libyan people on Thursday night in demonstrations in the provinces of Homs and Idlib and other locations warning. The protesters kept up their chants on Friday after prayers, with outpourings in Hama, Damascus and other places.

The Local Coordinating Committees said 24 people died in protests Friday in Homs, Hama, Idlib and the Damascus suburb of Saqba, where defectors from the armed forces were fighting government security forces.

Syrian security forces have launched a fierce crackdown against protesters who've taken to the streets since mid-March to protest the government and its policies. More than 3,000 people have died, according to activists and the United Nations.

The LCC issued a statement Friday congratulating Libya and warning al-Assad and other dictatorial regimes.

"This third great victory for the Arab Revolutions sends a critical message to the region, the people suffering under other tyrants, and the world at large." the LCC said. "Therefore, there is no turning back from the demands for freedom, or from the dear and generous blood and souls of those who perished in the fight."

This story was reported by Arwa Damon in Beiruit and Mohammad Jamjoon in Abu Dhabi. CNN's Salma Abdelaziz and Joe Sterling contributed reporting from Atlanta.

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