At least 13 mourners were shot dead on Saturday as Syrians swarmed the streets to bury scores of demonstrators killed in massive protests and two MPs resigned in frustration at the bloodshed. Activists said the death toll from Friday's nationwide protests could top 100, pending confirmation of a list of names.
Two independent MPs from the protest hub city of Daraa, Nasser al-Hariri and Khalil al-Rifai, told Al-Jazeera television they were resigning in frustration at not being able to protect their constituents.
Friday's deaths signalled no let-up from President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces used live ammunition against demonstrators nationwide, witnesses and activists told AFP.
The bloodshed erupted as tens of thousands of people took to the streets to test long sought-after freedoms a day after Mr. Assad scrapped decades of draconian emergency rule.
The Syrian Revolution 2011, a driving force behind the protests, marked the tone on Saturday by posting on its main Facebook page a black banner with the word “Mourning” in both Arabic and English.
Tens of thousands of mourners packed buses and headed for the southern town of Ezreh for the funerals of 18 people killed on Friday, a rights activist requesting anonymity told AFP by telephone.
Another activist later said “12 martyrs were buried in Ezreh” and that two men in the funeral cortege heading for the town — Yasser Nseirat and Jamal Qanbar — were shot dead by security forces.
Other activists spoke of five mourners killed in Ezreh and outside a hospital in Daraa, with the toll expected to rise.
Daraa has been an epicentre of protests against the regime of Mr. Assad, who also scrapped the feared state security court on Thursday and signed a decree “to regulate” peaceful protests.
Snipers also pinned down mourners in the northern Damascus suburb of Douma, killing at least five more people on Saturday, according to a witness and a human rights activist. They opened fire from roof-tops as mourners marched from a local mosque to a cemetery, the sources said, adding that tens of thousands of people took part in the procession.
It said mourners affirmed “the need to preserve national unity and defend Syria's security and stability to foil the plot to harm the country.”
A group called the Committee of Martyrs of 15 March Revolution issued a list of 82 names of people it said were killed on Friday, but said the toll from the “massacre” could reach 100 as it tried to confirm more deaths.
Officially, Syria has blamed “armed gangs” for Friday's bloodshed, and SANA said security forces intervened using only tear gas and water cannon to prevent clashes between protesters and passers-by.
Russia, France, Germany, Italy and Greece joined the chorus of condemnation from Washington, Paris, London, Brussels and U.N. headquarters in New York.
Iran also denied any involvement in putting down the protests.