Syria forces kill 19 in biggest protests: activists http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/us_syria
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis – 2 hrs 8 mins ago
AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian forces shot dead 19 people on Friday when they fired at demonstrators demanding the removal of President Bashar al-Assad in the biggest protest since unrest against Baathist rule erupted in March, activists said.
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.
"Protests last week were big and this week they are bigger still. The demonstrators have not held squares consistently yet in big cities like we had seen in Egypt, but we're heading in this direction," opposition figure Walid al-Bunni told Reuters by telephone from Damascus.
"The security grip is weakening because the protests are growing in numbers and spreading, and more people are risking their lives to demonstrate. The Syrian people realize that this is an opportunity for liberty that comes once in hundreds of years," said Bunni, who was a political prisoner for eight years...