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Supporters of Syrian president take to the streets

DAMASCUS, Syria — Hundreds of thousands of supporters of Syria's hard-line regime poured into the streets of the capital Damascus and at least four other major cities Tuesday, waving pictures of the president and flags as the government tried to show it has mass support in the face of protests demanding more freedoms in this tightly controlled Arab state.

President Bashar Assad, whose family has controlled Syria for four decades and has a history of brutally crushing dissent, is trying to calm these protests with concessions. He is expected to address the nation in the next 24 hours to announce he is lifting a nearly 50-year state of emergency and moving to annul other harsh restrictions on civil liberties and political freedoms. Continue reading.