The popular revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has proved remarkably resilient, with protests erupting every week despite the near-certainty the government will respond with bullets and tear gas. The U.N. estimates the regime crackdown on the protests has killed 3,000 people since March.
Much of the bloodshed on Friday happened after the protests had ended and security forces armed with machine guns chased protesters and activists, according to opposition groups monitoring the demonstrations. Authorities disrupted telephone and internet service, they said.
The Syrian opposition’s two main activist groups, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordinating Committees, reported the deaths.
The flashpoints were Homs and Hama in central Syria, where opposition to the regime is strong. Hama is the site of a massacre nearly 30 years ago which has come to symbolise the ruthlessness of the Assad dynasty.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the observatory, said security forces in Homs were firing machine guns as they conducted raids in search of protesters and activists. In Hama, there were heavy clashes between the army and gunmen believed to be army defectors.