21 May 2011

Demonstrators killed in Syria

8:58 pm on 21 May 2011

A human rights activist says security forces have killed 44 people during anti-regime protests which swept Syria, with most of the casualties in the western province of Idlib and the central city of Homs.

"Syrian authorities are continuing to use excessive force and live ammunition to face popular protests in various regions throughout the country," said Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organisation for Human Rights, who was reached by telephone on Saturday.

The authoritarian government has responded to the protests that have swept Syria since 15 March with a brutal crackdown that has left at least 850 people dead and hundreds injured, according to rights groups.

Thousands have been arrested.