In what is becoming the bloodiest day of the uprising in Syria thus far, up to 70 protesters have died on Friday, as state security forces of President Bashar al-Assad are using live ammunition and tear-gas to disperse thousands of demonstrators across the country.
Overall, the death toll after five weeks of unrest in Syria is now approaching 300.
Activists, who have dubbed today the Great Friday protests, are apparently now seeking the overthrow of the Assad regime, rather than just accept a handful of reforms and concession that have been offered.
According to media reports, fifteen deaths were recorded in the southern town of Izraa, near Deraa, the focal point of the national unrest. Another was killed in Damascus, where government soldiers fired teargas at protesters – reportedly the first recorded death in the capital since the troubled began. Killings were also reported in Douma, a suburb of Damascus and Homs.
Clearly, Assad, who lifted the emergency laws yesterday, is now in no mood for granting any further concessions nor in negotiating with the opposition.
In a commentary on the worsening crisis in Syria, Robert Fisk, a Beirut-based Middle East reporter for the UK's Independent newspaper, told Al Jazeera: Once you start giving these concessions, the crowds on the streets want more and it will always end at the same demand: end of the dictator… [Assad is] in a lot of trouble and there must be a lot of talk in the presidential palace tonight.”