Syria frees two Americans

The United States said Friday that the Syrian authorities have freed the two remaining Americans who were arrested in Damascus in recent days, at a time of widespread political unrest.

"The two Americans who were detained in Syria for the past several days were released," Mark Toner, a State Department spokesperson, told reporters.

He said that while US officials had not gained access to the Americans, Washington is satisfied that they have indeed been released.

Toner said Tuesday that three American citizens had been arrested in Damascus, although one had been released.

State media on Sunday said an American citizen had been detained, accusing the person of stirring up anti-government protests.

The State Department on Thursday urged Americans to avoid all but essential travel to Syria and advised those already there to consider leaving a country that is reeling from weeks of deadly political unrest.

President Bashar al-Assad is facing pressure, unprecedented during his 11-year rule, as protesters demand greater freedoms and test his family's four-decade grip on power.

Activists estimate more than 130 people have been killed in clashes with security forces, mainly in Daraa and Latakia. Officials put the death toll at closer to 30.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon