Syrian security forces killed 11 people on Friday as protesters called on the Arab League to suspend Damascus's membership in response to continued violence, activists said.
Local activists in Homs, which has suffered the highest death toll of any Syrian province since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in March, said security forces killed seven civilians and one defecting soldier.
Another three people were killed in Hama, they said.
The people want (Syria's) membership to be suspended, shouted a crowd at a rally in the Deir Baalba district of Homs, appealing to the 22-member Arab League to act against Damascus when it meets in Cairo on Saturday.
Proud Homs! they shouted, waving the green, white and black flag used by Syria before the ruling Baath Party seized power nearly 50 years ago.
In Homs alone Syrian security forces have killed at least 104 people since the Arab League initiative was agreed nine days ago, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued on Friday.
The systematic nature of abuses against civilians in Homs by Syrian government forces, including torture and unlawful killings, constitute crimes against humanity, the group said.
It called on the Arab League to suspend Syria, request the United Nations impose sanctions on those responsible for the violence, and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
The United Nations says 3,500 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on the protests, inspired by uprisings which have toppled autocrats in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.
Syrian authorities, who have barred most foreign media from the country, blame armed groups for the violence and say 1,100 members of the security forces have been killed.
Alongside the mainly peaceful protests there have been increasing attacks on security forces by army defectors. Activists said at least 30 civilians and 26 soldiers were killed on Thursday, and the daily death tolls this month have been some of the highest since the uprising first erupted.
ARAB LEAGUE DIVIDED
One banner in the southern Hauran plane reflected the religious element behind some of the protests: There is no god but God. Assad is the enemy of God, it read.
Has the Arab League initiative stopped our blood from flowing? read another at the protest in Deir Baalba.
Arab states remain widely divided over how to deal with Syria's crackdown on protesters after the League's peace deal failed to stem violence, and there is little likelihood a meeting on Saturday will bridge the gap.
Several countries oppose bringing serious pressure to bear on Assad and it looks unlikely that foreign ministers will freeze Syria's membership at the Cairo meeting, officials due to attend say.
Saudi Arabia leads a group of Gulf states including Qatar, Oman and Bahrain that are ready to increase the pressure on Assad, an ally of their rival Iran.
Diplomats say they are opposed by countries such as Yemen --in the grip if its own uprising; Lebanon -- where Syria's influence looms large; and Algeria, seen as more sympathetic to Assad and nervous about the message any intervention in Syria would send to its own frustrated population.
In Syria, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Thursday authorities were adhering to the plan, under which Syria pledged to pull the military out of restive cities, set political prisoners free and start talks with the opposition.
If Arab states isolated Syria, that would help Assad's sternest critics in the West gain a broader consensus for tougher sanctions and, perhaps, some form of intervention.
The United States and European Union have imposed sanctions on Syria's oil industry and several state businesses, forcing Damascus to curb oil production. The unrest has also prompted depositors to withdraw hundreds of millions of dollars from Syrian banks.
Industry sources said oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and Total have slashed production in Syria. The ministry has instructed all of the joint ventures to cut production significantly, said one oil industry source.
Syrian oil represents less than 1 percent of daily global production but accounts for a vital portion of Syrian government earnings, which have already been hit by the collapse of tourism revenues.
(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans and Laila Bassam in Beirut, Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Emma Farge and Muriel Boselli in London; Editing by Myra MacDonald)