Syrian forces kill 19 in biggest protests
By Khanyisa Tabata
18 June 2011
Human rights groups say at least 19 protesters have been killed by Syrian security forces in anti-government demonstrations following Friday prayers.
Despite the crackdowns that have forced thousands to flee across the Turkish border, tens of thousands rallied yesterday in demonstrations that the government seems unable to stop.
European powers, which had initiated a detente with Assad prior to the street protests to try to draw the Syrian leader away from Iran and also stabilise Lebanon, said Damascus should face tougher sanctions for the violence.
Tens of thousands of people rallied across the country, defying Assad's military crackdown and ignoring a pledge that his tycoon cousin Rami Makhlouf, a symbol of corruption, would renounce his business empire and channel his wealth to charity.
Authorities have blamed the violence on armed groups and Islamists, backed by foreign powers.