Security forces shot dead at least 25 pro-democracy protesters in Syria on Friday, human rights campaigners said, as protesters flooded into the streets after prayers in at least five major areas across the country.
The protesters were killed in suburbs and towns surrounding Damascus, in the central city of Homs and in the southern town of Izra'a, two established Syrian human rights organisations keeping a tally of civilian deaths told Reuters.
Syrian security forces fired live bullets and tear gas at the tens of thousands of people shouting for freedom and democracy.
"The people want the downfall of the regime!" shouted protesters in Douma, a Damascus suburb where some 40,000 people took to the streets, witnesses said.
It is the same rallying cry that was heard during the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.
Al-Arabiya in Arabic says that the number of deaths is at 38. AFP echoes that number.
Before today, some 228 people had been killed in the anti-regime protests in Syria.
UPDATE: Al Arabiya says 68.