Syria opposition to rally to mark year of struggle


BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian opposition groups are calling for protests in the capital Damascus and elsewhere to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the first nationwide demonstrations of the country's uprising.

Many activists consider March 18, 2011, the start of the uprising against authoritarian President Bashar Assad. Thousands took to the streets in cities across Syria, and security forces killed marchers in the southern city of Daraa, the start of a bloody government crackdown.

The U.N. says more than 8,000 people have been killed. Many in the opposition have taken up arms as the conflict has become militarized.

It is unclear if demonstrations will go ahead Sunday in Damascus, an Assad stronghold. Tens of thousand rallied there in support of the president last week.