Tens of thousands of Syrians in cities around their country took to the streets Friday after noon prayers shouting We will not kneel in a strong show of defiance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and at least eight protesters were killed by security forces, human rights activists and residents said. The demonstrations were smaller in numbers than those held in past few weeks but they were significant because they came two weeks after security forces took control of the countrys two most restive cities, Hama in central Syria and Deir al-Zour in the east, in a military operation that activists say left hundreds dead. The demonstrations on Friday were a clear sign that the armed forces could not intimidate protesters into staying home. Today they were successful in dispersing the crowds by force, said Saleh al-Hamawi, an activist from Hama, reached by phone. But they failed to put fear in our hearts, which they are betting on.