Pro-Assad crowd tries to storm Syria meeting

Tunisian police wielding batons beat back several dozen protesters trying to enter the venue of an international meeting on the Syria crisis in Tunis Feb. 24, 2012. AFP/Getty Images

TUNIS, Tunisia - About 200 pro-Syrian demonstrators tried to storm the hotel where a conference is being held by Arab and Western officials over the crisis in Syria.

The protest forced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to be diverted to her hotel, delaying her appearance at the "Friends of Syria" conference.

The protesters, waving Syrian and Tunisian flags, tussled with police and carried signs criticizing Clinton and President Obama.

Police wielding truncheons stopped them from entering the venue and drove them out of the parking lot after about 15 minutes.

The U.S. and European and Arab allies are expected to back a proposal for Syria's president to step aside and allow in humanitarian assistance to end a brutal crackdown against opponents.

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