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Syrian Troops Fire On Protesters

DAMASCUS, Syria, Aug. 19 (UPI) — Syrian forces fired on protesters Friday, killing at least 12 after President Bashar Assad said he had ordered an end to violence against demonstrators.

The latest violence came a day after U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders called for Assad to step down.

Demonstrators were killed in skirmishes across the country as protesters and many in the international community increased their pressure on Assad to leave office, the Los Angeles Times reported.

On a day activists called “The promise of victory,” protesters were seen marching in Homs, Homa and Damascus, but the number of protesters was down from previous weeks, the Times said.

There was no official reaction by Assad’s government relating to the call for him to step down, The New York Times said.

The BBC said Friday’s protests would be a test of Assad’s claim he had called for an end of army and police operations against civilians calling for his removal.

The United States is “waging a humanitarian and diplomatic war” against Syria, said Bashar Ja’afari, Syria’s envoy to the United Nations. He said the United States wants to instigate insurrection in Syria.

Assad has long promised reforms, but they have yet to materialize, officials said. Human rights groups said some 2,000 people have died since uprisings calling for Assad’s ouster began five months ago.

The United States, joined by the United Kingdom, France and Germany, Thursday called for Assad to quit, saying his “calls for dialogue and reform have rung hollow while he is imprisoning, torturing and slaughtering his own people.”

U.S. President Barack Obama also called for more stringent trade sanctions against Syria; the European Union could call for its own sanctions, the report said.

The United Nations said it was given permission to send a humanitarian mission to Syria, but in a separate development U.N. investigators said Thursday the use of violence against Syrian protesters could “amount to crimes against humanity.”

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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