Syrian forces shot dead at least two men on Sunday as protests broke out to condemn a massacre that killed at least 109 civilians, many of them children, in the town of Houla, opposition activists said.
The two were killed in the Damascus suburbs of Yalda and Daraya, home to thousands of refugees who have fled a military crackdown on the central province of Homs.
One of those killed, 22-year-old Riad Mahmoud, was among a crowd of 2,000-3,000 people who marched in the neighborhood of Yalda on the southern edge of the capital and were confronted by armed members of political security, a secret police division, two activists in contact with the district said.
Footage broadcast by activists in Yalda showed a crowd of hundreds at Mahmoud's funeral shouting "the people want the downfall of the regime".
"The funeral turned into another demonstration against the regime and in support of Homs," said opposition campaigner Walid al-Omari.
Activists said forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed at least 109 people, mostly women and children, on Friday in Houla in Homs province, in one of the biggest massacres of the 14-month uprising against his rule.
Syrian authorities on Sunday denied carrying out the massacre, instead blaming it on terrorists. "Women, children and old men were shot dead. This is not the hallmark of the heroic Syrian army," Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdesi told reporters in Damascus.
Assad is facing growing world outrage over the ongoing killings. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that US President Barack Obama is planning on pressing Russia, a staunch ally of Damascus, to accept a proposal by which embattled president Assad would
cede power through a negotiated political settlement.
Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.