(BEIRUT, Lebanon) -- At least 12 people were killed in Syria mid-afternoon Friday in massive anti-government protests in defiance of increased Western pressure for the regime to radically reform.
The protests followed the week's provocative visits by U.S. Ambassador Robert S. Ford and French envoy Eric Chavallier to the city of Hama enraged Syrian authorities and provoked testy exchanges between Western and Syrian officials.
The protests appear to have gained momentum, with unprecedented numbers in Hama, in central Syria, and Deir al-Zour, in the northeast, according to reports.
The demonstrations have yet to make decisive inroads into Damascus and Aleppo--the country’s two largest cities and the focus of the government’s attention.
The four-month long protests have resulted in the death of 1,431 people, despite activists’ contention that their protests remain peaceful.
The number of causalities is expected to rise, despite a purported dialogue between President Bashar Assad deputies and some regime critics that finished days ago, according to human rights activists.
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