BEIRUT - Syrian forces shot dead 10 people in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, most of them young men protesting peacefully against President Bashar Assad, the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The reported killings occurred on the same day that Assad, speaking in public for the first time in more than six months, said no instruction had been given to security forces to fire on unarmed Syrians.
The British-based Observatory also said a man was killed in Homs by gunfire coming from a checkpoint in the city.
The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed in Assad's crackdown on 10 months of protests against his rule. Syria says it faces a campaign by Islamist militants who have killed 2,000 members of the security forces.
Authorities have barred most independent media from Syria, making it hard to verify accounts from activists or the government.