NICOSIA: At least 14 people, four of them children, were killed as Syrian security forces opened fire in several cities on Friday, with most of the victims falling in the restive region of Homs, activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 10 civilians were killed in and around Homs, two in Daraa, cradle of anti-regime protests since March, one civilian in Hama and another in Douma near Damascus. Twenty-three civilians were wounded in Homs, it said.
The opposition Syrian National Council earlier warned of the dangers of a “massacre” in the protest hub of Homs, a city in central Syria that it said was surrounded by government forces.
Two children, aged 10 and 12, were among nine killed by gunfire in different districts of Homs itself, and a 14-year boy was fatally wounded in nearby Aqrab, the Britain-based Observatory said in a statement. It said 19 people were arrested in Hula, also in Homs province.
A civilian was killed in Hama as security agents opened fire to disperse a protest near Mustapha Jaber mosque, it said, while a woman and 12-year-old girl were gunned down by “indiscriminate gunfire” in Daraa.
The rights watchdog said a man died in a similar incident in Douma, whose streets it said were the scene of “violent clashes between a group of deserters and security agents.”