Syrian forces shot dead at least 13 civilians on Sunday in a continued military assault on the restive city of Homs and in attacks on pro-democracy demonstrations that erupted after prayers marking the main Muslim feast, activists said.
Arab leaders have ramped up criticism of Assad as the killings mounted, but shied from demanding major political change in the country for fear chaos could ensue, given Syria's volatile sectarian divisions. Syria is dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect while Sunni Muslims form the majority.
Damascus has described increasing Arab criticism as unproductive and based on false media reports.
It says the unrest has arisen largely from a foreign conspiracy to divide Syria and that security forces are using legitimate means to confront "terrorists" and Islamist militants bent on wrecking a reform drive by Assad.
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