Beirut, Lebanon -Thousands of Syrians took to the streets across the country on Friday calling for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad, keeping up the pressure on him in the five-month-old uprising one day after an alliance of nations led by the United States publicly called on him for the first time to step down and toughened the sanctions against his government. At least 16 people were reported killed, including some soldiers who disobeyed orders to shoot at protesters.
Syrians have been demonstrating on Fridays after noon prayers since the uprising began in March, and activists on the official Facebook page for the Syrian Revolution are calling this week’s demonstrations “Friday of the beginnings of victory.”
Activists and residents reached in Syria reported shooting in several areas across the country, despite Mr. Assad’s assertion two days earlier that all military operations against the opposition had ended. They said that 13 demonstrators were killed in the southern Dara’a Province, where the first protests began five months ago, after security forces arrested and tortured high school students caught scrawling antigovernment graffiti on walls.