Protests in Latakia after Assad speech -residents

AMMAN, March 30 Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:46am EDT

AMMAN, March 30 (Reuters) - Hundreds of people took to the streets on Wednesday in the port city of Latakia chanting "freedom" after President Bashar al-Assad made a speech playing down unprecedented protests against his rule.

Several residents said they heard shots fired in the al-Sleibeh old district of the city, where one of at least two demonstrations took place, as security forces confronted the demonstrators. (Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Louise Ireland)