Death toll climbs after Syria funeral violence

Syrian security forces fired on funeral processions that drew tens of thousands, one day after the bloodiest crackdown so far in the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

Syrian security forces fired on funeral processions that drew tens of thousands, one day after the bloodiest crackdown so far in the uprising against President Bashar Assad.

The shootings pushed the two-day death toll to more than 120 and two politicians and a religious leader resigned in disgust over the killings.

The resignations were a possible sign of cracks developing in the regime’s base in a nation where nearly all opposition figures have been either jailed or exiled during the 40-year dynasty of the Assad family.

“I cannot tolerate the blood of our innocent sons and children being shed,” Sheikh Rizq Abdul-Rahim Abazeid said after stepping down from his post as the mufti of the Daraa region in southern Syria.

The politicians, Nasser Hariri and Khalil Rifai, also are from Deraa, which has become the epicentre of the protest movement after a group of teenagers were arrested there for scrawling anti-regime graffiti on a wall in mid-March.

Since then, the relentless crackdown on demonstrations has only served to invigorate protesters whose rage over the bloodshed has all but eclipsed their earlier demands for modest reforms.

Now, many are seeking Mr Assad’s downfall.

Each Friday, growing numbers of people in cities across the country have taken to the streets despite swift attacks from security forces and shadowy pro-government gunmen known as shabiha.

Ammar Qurabi, the head of Syria’s National Organisation for Human Rights, said 112 people were killed Friday and at least 11 yesterday.

Friday was by far the deadliest day of the uprising, with security forces beating back protesters with bullets, tear gas and stun guns.

“If I cannot protect the chests of my people from these treacherous strikes, then there is no meaning for me to stay in the People’s Assembly. I declare my resignation,” Mr Hariri told Al-Jazeera in a televised interview.

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