Activists in Syria say government forces have renewed their violent crackdown on dissent as thousands of anti-regime protesters rallied in flashpoint cities after the Ramadan weekly prayers.
The activists say troops opened fire on thousands of protesters in Deir al-Zour in the east and attacked Kahn Sheikhun in the north at dawn with tanks and troop carriers, the BBC reports.
They say the troops shot dead at least 20 protesters as tens of thousands demanded the overthrow of the President, Bashar al-Assad, chanting "We will kneel only to God".
The United Nations Security Council will discuss human rights and a growing humanitarian emergency in Syria at a special meeting late next week.
Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for other countries to join US sanctions against Syria.
She said action by China, India, Russia and Europe could significantly increase pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
The BBC reports that more than 1700 people have died since the uprising against the Assad family's 41-year rule began in March.