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Syrian forces shoot dead protesters despite ceasefire

SYRIAN forces shot dead three anti-government protesters on Friday on the second day of a nationwide ceasefire, as tens of thousands of people demonstrated against President Bashar al-Assad, activists said.

One demonstrator was killed in Assi square in the city of Hama when government forces opened fire on demonstrators despite agreeing to an UN-brokered ceasefire, sources in Hama told the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

International envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan went into effect Thursday morning. An outbreak of violence could undermine the ceasefire agreement that aims for a peaceful resolution to end the bloody 13-month uprising through diplomatic discussions.

Security forces were out in strength to control the anti-Assad rallies, demanding protesters obtain permits for the right to rally in the streets.

Syrian forces tightened security in public squares and around mosques.

Another protester was shot dead after leaving a mosque to join anti-Assad protests in the village of Nawa, in the southern province of Daraa, the Observatory said.

The Annan plan allows the Syrian people to hold peaceful protests.

Syrian forces also killed a man in the town of Salqin, in the northwestern province of Idlib near the Turkish border, as troops loyal to Assad attempt to clear rebels out of the area, the Observatory added.

Government forces deployed tanks to the village of Kherbet Joz, near the border of Turkey, where there has been heavy gunfire, the anti-Assad committees reported.

A contingent of 10 to 12 people UN observers are ready to board a plane to Syria, the spokesman for Annan said on Friday.

The advance team is "standing by to board planes and to get themselves on the ground as soon as possible" in anticipation that the UN security council will grant approval for the mission, Annan's spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told a news conference in Geneva on Friday.

The UN estimated that government forces have killed at least 9,000 Syrian people since the violent uprising against Assad began last year.