14 Killed as Syrian Protests Spread

Posted July 1st, 2011 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian forces killed at least 14 people in clashes with protesters Friday as tens of thousands took to the streets nationwide against President Bashar al-Assad.

Protesters gathered Friday near the Turkish border, as well as in central Syria and areas of the capital, Damascus. Rights groups say more than 1,400 people have been killed by security forces since mid-March, most of them unarmed protesters.

Details of events in Syria are difficult to independently confirm because the government allows very few foreign news reporters into the country and restricts their movements.

The latest violence comes as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said time is running out for the Syrian government.

Clinton made the comments at the “Community of Democracies'' gathering in Lithuania's capital, Vilnius. She said the Syrian government must make genuine reforms or face increased resistance.

Clinton also said Mr. Assad's efforts to reach out to the opposition during one meeting earlier this week was not sufficient. She added that allowing an opposition meeting in Damascus, while deploying tanks in the north sends a mixed message.

Syria has continued a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters. Security forces killed at least 12 people in two days during an ongoing military operation this week near the Turkish border in the country's northwest.

Pro-government forces also appear to be preventing residents from crossing into Turkey in recent days. More than 12,000 Syrians have fled there to escape the violence in their homeland. Hundreds more Syrian refugees have left for Lebanon.

Turkish officials said only five Syrians made it across the border Thursday, the lowest number in days.