Campaigners in Syria say at least 13 protesters have been shot dead after tens of thousands took to the streets after Friday prayers.
Defiant protest marches unfolded across the country despite a military crackdown that has triggered condemnation and sanctions abroad.
All this happened as the US turned up the diplomatic heat.
“We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, (…) to get on the right side of history” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters during a White House briefing.
Syria’s oil industry generates most of the country’s hard currency from crude output of 380,000 barrels a day. But it’s refinery capacity is not enough to satisfy domestic demand so extra supplies are imported in via international oil traders.
Market watchers say vested commercial interests mean there is little chance of Western nations backing the call for sanctions.