Syria’s Death Toll Rises As International Pressure Mounts On Assad

Up to 90 people have been killed by government security forces across Syria since yesterday, activists said, making the past 24 hours some of the bloodiest since the uprising began eight months ago.

The Local Coordination Committees, which organize protests on the ground, said that 11 people were reportedly killed today, including two children. We spoke to one protester in the northeastern province of Idlib, who said he marched in a protest until it was dispersed when security forces opened fire on another protest in a neighboring village.

The protester, who gave his first name as Nour and wanted to withhold his last name because he feared government retaliation, said despite the crackdown people are planning to continue protesting until the fall of the regime.

Today, the Syrian government also came under increasing pressure to end its violent crackdown on protesters.

Al Jazeera reported that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Prime Minister of Turkey, said “he no longer has confidence in the Syrian regime, warning President Bashar Assad that his country is on a ‘knife’s edge’ and the brutal crackdown threatens to place Assad on a list of leaders who ‘feed on blood.'” Turkey also threatened to cut electricity supplies to Syria.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington hopes that the Arab League would send a strong message to Syria when Arab foreign ministers meet in Morocco on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“We look for the Arab League tomorrow to again send a forceful message to Assad that he needs to allow for a democratic transition to take place and end the violence against his people,” Toner said during a news briefing today.

Yesterday, King Abdullah II of Jordan became the first Arab leader to call on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. “If I were in his shoes, I would step down,” he told the BBC. King Abdullah’s call increases the mounting pressure on Assad after the Arab League suspended Damascus’ membership on Saturday.

Nour, a 22-year-old French literature student, said he was pleased with the Arab League’s decision.

“People in Syria have taken to the street for nine months. This was the first time they recognized our revolution,” he said, adding that the Arab League should take the matter to the United Nation Security Council if the the regime did not stop killing people.

The Syrian government called on Monday to hold an emergency Arab summit, but a bloc of Gulf nations has rejected Syria’s request, Reuters reported. They added: “Nabil Elaraby, the Arab League’s secretary general, said he had delivered Syria’s request to the 22 member states and 15 of them would have to approve in order to hold a summit, according to Egypt’s state news agency MENA.”

Nour told us the people no longer accept to live the same life their fathers lived under the rule of President Bashar Assad and his father before him. “People are willing to be killed,” he said, “but they would never give up on freedom.”

Foreign journalists have had limited access to the country. Most of the information coming out of Syria has come from activists and locals on the ground. We have been watching social media sites throughout the day, and collected some videos that reflect events on the ground today. Please be aware that some of the content that follows is graphic.

Ahmed Al Omran is a production assistant on NPR’s social media desk.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.