At least 24 civilians were killed Friday by Bashar Assad's forces, prominent human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouna said, as tens of thousands of people called on the president to step down in some of the biggest demonstrations since Syria's uprising began in March.
Earlier, the Local Coordination Committees, a group of grassroots activists, said that at least three demonstrators were shot dead in the central city of Homs, three in the northern province of Idlib, two in Damascus suburbs and one in Latakia.
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Defying Assad's military crackdown, demonstrators took to the streets again after Friday prayers across the country, from towns near the western Lebanese border to the desert regions near Iraq in the east.
"Bashar get out of our lives," read placards carried by thousands of Kurds who marched in the northeastern city of Amouda, according to a YouTube video taken by residents.
In the city of Hama, video footage appeared to show tens of thousands of protesters massed in a central square. Witnesses and activists said demonstrators in Hama and in Kurdish eastern areas carried red cards, employing a soccer symbol to demand Assad's "sending off."
Authorities banned most international media from operating in Syria since the outbreak of the protests in March, making it difficult to verify reports from activists and authorities.
State television said gunmen had fired on security forces in Homs in several other towns, wounding two of them.
Protesters have taken to the streets for 14 weeks to protest against Assad in unrest which has claimed the lives of around 1,300 civilians, according to rights groups. Authorities say 500 police and soldiers have been killed by gunmen they also blame for most of the civilian deaths.
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