Anti-government demonstrations broke out in Syria on Friday after weekly Muslim prayers, with activists reporting at least 12 deaths amid clashes between security forces and protesters.
The Syria Human Rights Information Link told CNN that at least nine people died in the western industrial city of Homs when security forces fired at crowds.
For the past two months, Syria has been torn by street protests against political repression and a fierce security crackdown against demonstrators. The government's tough and violent actions toward marchers and its thousands of mass arrests have drawn widespread criticism.
Demonstrations erupted after Friday prayers in Syrian cities, as they have for weeks.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials, and on Thursday, President Barack Obama singled out Syria for criticism during his speech on the Middle East.
A rights activist in Homs described thick black smoke hanging over the city as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets demanding al-Assad's ouster. According to the rights activist, the demonstrators gathered from several neighborhoods around Homs.
The demonstrators chanted slogans calling for the release of political detainees and demanded freedom, equality, and fundamental reforms, the activist said. As the crowd grew, security forces fired shots in the air and tried to disperse the gathering. When people refused to leave, security forces fired at the throngs, killing at least seven and wounding others, the rights activist said.
Despite the eruption of violence, demonstrators remained in the streets and chanted for the downfall of the regime.
Via: This Just In