At least 34 demonstrators calling for President Bashar al-Assad to quit were killed by the Syrian security forces in the latest crackdown in the city of Hama on Friday, activists said.
Security forces and snipers opened fire on thousands of protesters when they took to the streets after noon prayers on Friday and gathered in the city of Hama, the place where President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, crushed an armed Islamist revolt 29 years ago by killing up to 30,000 people, Reuters reported.
Activists said security forces killed at least 34 people, while scores were wounded. The firing began from rooftops on the demonstrators. I saw scores of people falling in Assi square and the streets and alleyways branching out. Blood was everywhere, a witness who gave his name as Omar told Reuters from Hama.
Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters defied a military curfew and held protests in the southern city of Deraa, chanting No dialogue with killers, two residents in the city told Reuters.
Syrian security forces also fired on demonstrators in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, Damascus' Barzeh district and in Idlib, where one person was killed.
Reuters quoted Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying that the demonstrations are a natural reaction to the increased killings and lack of seriousness by the regime for any national reconciliation.
With the unrest spreads and the death toll rises, the Syrian government is also facing increased international pressure to stop the killings.
The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded an immediate end to the violent repression and human rights abuses by Syrian forces, Reuters reported.
On the other hand, Syrian authorities blamed armed groups with the backing of Islamists and foreign powers for the violence. According to authorities, the groups have fired both on civilians and security forces.