As anticipated, protests erupted across Syria after prayers on Friday, the Muslim holy day. In the central city of Homs, an estimated 5,000 protesters took to the streets. The army was there and shots were heard. Campaigners say a large number of civilians were targeted.
Activists accuse the authorities of opening fire on the crowds in cities across the country, leaving at least 16 people dead.
Tens of thousands of people also gathered in the southern province of Deraa, the cradle of the three-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
Friday’s reported victims include the first protester to be killed in Aleppo, Syria’s second city and one that has, to date, been largely free of unrest. It is said that more than 1,000 civilians, police and soldiers have so far died in the revolt, which began in March as a protest against the autocratic rule of President Bashar al-Assad.