WORLD -- April 29, 2011 at 11:02 AM ET
Reports: 42 Killed in Latest Protests Across Syria
2:15 p.m. ET | The latest estimates from human rights groups stand at 42 dead on Friday.
Updated 12:50 p.m. ET | According to Syrian human rights groups quoted by the Associated Press, 24 people have been killed Friday in Syria, including 15 villagers in Daraa.
This third-party photo, reportedly taken in Daraa Thursday, was obtained by AFP/Getty Images and cannot be independently verified.
Despite weeks of a crackdown by government security forces, protesters reportedly took to the streets in Daraa, Latakia, Banias, Homs, Damascus and in other cities Friday, chanting and carrying signs decrying the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Witnesses say security forces have fired on the demonstrators in Daraa, Damascus and Latakia. According to human rights groups, the Friday crackdown has resulted in several deaths and more injuries.
Army tanks remain on the streets of Daraa, the focus of protests in the south and the site of intensified efforts to quell the unrest. Syrian state television claimed Friday that an army post had been overrun in the city in what it called a "terrorist" attack, resulting in the deaths of four soldiers. The city's residents have remained hunkered down amid reports of sniper fire and bodies remaining in the streets.
Activists had planned further demonstrations after Friday prayers, and in part to memorialize those killed in last week's violence in what they called a "day of rage" in Syria.
Assad recently lifted the country's nearly half-century-old emergency law but has offered few other significant concessions. The government has categorized the demonstrations as led by "armed extremists" and vowed to put them down.
The crackdown has also included a disruption of communications and water supplies, and restriction on any foreign media covering the demonstrations.
Meanwhile, the United States and European Union have asked the United Nations' Human Rights Council to look into allegations of human rights abuses in the government crackdown on protesters in Syria, where an estimated 450 people have died since demonstrations began in mid-March. Several European nations are considering imposing sanctions.