Amman: Syrian security forces killed almost 90 protesters on Friday, rights activists said, the bloodiest day in a month of escalating pro-democracy demonstrations against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad .
The Local Coordination Committees sent Reuters a list with the names of 88 people, classified by region, the group said were killed in areas stretching from the port city of Latakia to Homs, Hama, Damascus and the southern village of Izra’a.
It was not possible to independently confirm the figures.
U.S. President Barack Obama condemned the violence and accused Assad of seeking help from Iran.
“This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now,” Obama said in a statement.
“Instead of listening to their own people, President Assad is blaming outsiders while seeking Iranian assistance in repressing Syria’s citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by his Iranian allies.”
That was an apparent reference to the suppression of anti-government protests in Iran, the biggest since the 1979 Islamic revolution, that erupted after a disputed 2009 presidential election.
Tens of thousands of people had taken to the streets of cities across Syria in the biggest demonstrations to sweep the country so far, and called for the “overthrow of the regime”.
That reflected the hardening of demands which initially focused on reforms and greater freedoms.
The protests went ahead despite Assad’s lifting of the state of emergency the day before. Ending the hated emergency rule, in place since the Baath Party seized power 48 years ago, was a central demand of demonstrators, who also seek the release of political prisoners and dismantling of the security services.
“This was the first test of the seriousness of authorities (towards reform) and they have failed,” activist Ammar Qurabi said.
Washington urged Syria to stop the violence against protesters and British Foreign Secretary William Hague said emergency law should be “lifted in practice not just in word”.
Friday’s violence brings the death toll to about 300, according to rights activists, since the unrest which broke out on March 18 in the southern city of Deraa.
Activists cited the highest toll in the nearby village of Izra’a where protesters had been trying to head for Deraa. Residents said 14 people were killed.
“Izra’a is in the dark. No mobile phones or landlines working. People have been talking from villages near to Izra’a but not in the town,” said Wissam Tarif of human rights organisation, Insan.
Syrian television said eight people were killed and 28 wounded, including army personnel, in attacks by armed groups in the village. It added an armed group had attacked a military base in the Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya.
Amnesty International said it had been told of 75 deaths, including two children and a 70-year-old man. Agencies