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Report: Syria paid protesters

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A boy wraps himself in a Palestinian flag as he stands in front of Hamas riot policemen during a protest near the Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip June 5, 2011, marking the 44th anniversary of the start of a 1967 Middle East War in which Israel captured East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Golan Heights. UPI/Ismael Mohamad.
A boy wraps himself in a Palestinian flag as he stands in front of Hamas riot policemen during a protest near the Erez border crossing between Israel and northern Gaza Strip June 5, 2011, marking the 44th anniversary of the start of a 1967 Middle East War in which Israel captured East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Golan Heights. UPI/Ismael Mohamad. | License Photo

DAMASCUS, Syria, June 6 (UPI) -- The Syrian government paid protesters $1,000 each to participate in demonstrations in which many people died at Israel's border, the Reform Party of Syria said.

Intelligence sources close to President Bashar Assad told the party the Syrian government paid each protester.

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On Monday, the Israeli Army maintained a high state of alert along the border with Syria a day after Syria state television reported 23 people were killed by Israeli gunfire.

Syrian Health Minister Wael al-Halki said 350 people were injured, Israel Radio said.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the radio he believes the number of fatalities was under 20.

The army said at least eight protesters were killed when firebombs thrown by demonstrators toward the Israeli border set fire to fields and caused land mines to explode, the radio report said.

The International Red Cross said it was unable to confirm or deny Syrian claims concerning the number of casualties.

Israeli military officials told the radio that on Sunday the army called three cease-fires to permit the evacuation of the injured by Red Cross officials but the protesters took advantage to gain ground and approach the border fence.

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