Syrian anti-government protest - AP - April 29, 2011
In this April 29, 2011 citizen journalism photo, Syrians gather after Friday prayers during an anti-government protest in the city of Banias, Syria. Photo by AP
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Activists say Syrian government troops are pounding a central town with artillery and gunfire, killing at least 15 people.

The Local Coordination Committees, which help organize and document the country's protests, said the deaths occurred in the town of Rastan Thursday.

The latest deaths brings to 58 the number of people killed by President Bashar Assad's forces in the town of Rastan in the past three days. The army has been conducting military operations in Rastan and nearby towns in the central province of Homs since Saturday.

Since mid-March, when protests swept Syria inspired by uprisings across the Arab world, the regime has killed more than 1,100 people, according to human rights groups.

The Syrian opposition called for more protests on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, to commemorate the nearly 30 children who have also been killed in the uprising.

The images of children who activists say were killed during the government crackdown have circulating widely among Syrians on YouTube, Facebook and opposition websites, shocking the public and stoking even more fury against a regime the opposition says has lost all legitimacy.

The government has tried to ease tension and end the 10-week revolt. On Wednesday, authorities released more than 500 prisoners, including some who took part in the latest demonstrations marking the most serious challenge to the Assad family's 40-year rule.