Report: Syria death toll at 19 in largest protests yet

By REUTERS
June 18, 2011 04:56

 
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The number of people killed by Syrian forces Friday has risen to 19, activists said. Security forces fired at demonstrators demanding the removal of Syrian President Bashar Assad in the biggest protest since unrest against Baathis rule erupted in March.

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 stabilize 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.

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