Syria rights group: 41 people were killed in Friday's mass protests
Forty-one people were killed in Friday's mass anti-government protests across Syria that were broken up by security forces using live ammunition, a human rights group said Saturday, DPA reported.
The death toll was initially given as 27 by activists documenting the protests on the day dubbed "Friday of Freedom Prisoners, in honour of those jailed during months of protests called for political reform and on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
But on Saturday, National Organisation for Human Rights said 27 people were killed in the capital Damascus and its suburbs alone, with more killed in the central city of Homs, Idlib in the north, and Daraa in the south.
The official SANA news agency meanwhile reported that 12 civilians and security personnel were killed by armed groups "who opened fire on gatherings of civilians following the Friday prayers".
The National Organisation for Human Rights, in a statement said: "We declare our full support for Syrians to the right to assembly, to peaceful protests expressing their legitimate demands."
It urged the government to quickly to implement these demands and "held authorities responsible to violence and bloodshed in the streets".
More than 1 million Syrians participated in Friday's protests, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights. The figure could not be independently verified.
Since mid-March, more than 1,440 civilians and 350 members of security have been killed by security forces during unprecedented protests, human rights groups say.
But the government disputes the figures and blames "armed thugs" and foreign conspirators for the unrest.