At least 37 people were killed Friday when Syrian security forces fired on anti-government protesters demanding the imposition of a no-fly zone in the country to protect civilians, opposition activists said.
Twenty were killed in the central province of Homs, with two shot dead by snipers stationed in the city, Omar Idlibi, the spokesman for the Local Coordination Committees that groups anti-regime activists told DPA.
In neighboring Hama province, 17 protesters were killed as security forces shelled areas where demonstrations were being held to disperse protesters, added Idlibi.
Homs and Hama have been focal points for the pro-democracy protests in Syria since they began in mid-March.
In Idlib province, near the Syrian border with Turkey, military and security forces on Friday made mass arrests including one woman and her 12-year-old son, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Syrian activists based in Lebanon said the army was using warplanes to locate demonstrations and alert government troops to disperse them.
The Friday protests were in response to a call from online activists for the international community to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, similar to the one that helped the rebels in Libya to oust the regime of Muammar Gadhafi.
'We call on the international community to impose a no-fly zone so that the (dissident) Syrian Free Army can act with greater freedom,' the Syrian Revolution 2011, a network of opposition activists, said on its Facebook page.
The self-styled Syrian Free Army claimed on Friday that its forces had been behind an attack in Homs that killed nine soldiers loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad two days ago.
The dissident group was established in July by Major-General, Raid al-Assad who deserted from the army along with other officers and joined the ranks of the opposition.
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