EU's Ashton: Violence in Syria 'Appalling and Intolerable'

Activists in Syria say at least 14 protesters were killed on Saturday when security forces opened fire on thousands of mourners, who were attending funerals of earlier victims.

The European Union's top foreign policy official on Saturday condemned the use of force against protesters in Syria, calling the ensuing deaths "appalling and intolerable."

"The Syrian authorities must immediately stop their violent response and fully respect citizens' right to peaceful demonstrations," Catherine Ashton said. "The killings are appalling and intolerable."

Syria funeral April 23, 2011 (AP)

Activists in Syria said at least 14 people were killed on Saturday when security officials used live ammunition to disperse thousands of mourners, who were attending the funerals of earlier victims.

According to Amnesty International, 75 people had been killed Friday in Syria on the deadliest single day yet during five weeks of mass protests against President Bashar Assad's regime.

The recent violence against protesters has taken place despite Assad approving a decree that ended nearly five decades of emergency rule, which had curbed the right to assembly in Syria and given the government sweeping powers to crack down on dissidents.

But Ashton noted that the reforms would only be credible if "real improvements on the ground" followed.

"I call on the Syrian government to carry out profound political reforms, starting with the respect for basic rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law," she said. "That process can only be made possible by putting an immediate end to all repressive

On Saturday, two Syrian lawmakers announced their resignations from parliament to protest the killing of demonstrators.

Lawmaker Khalil al-Rifaei joined his colleague Naser al-Hariri, both representatives of the troubled city of Deraa, and announced his resignation on al-Jazeera television, saying it was because of the killings of pro-democracy protesters.

"Security solutions do not work," Rifaei said.

Also on Saturday, the government-appointed mufti, or Muslim preacher, of Deraa resigned.

"Being assigned to give fatwas (religious edicts), I submit my resignation as a result of the fall of victims and martyrs by police fire," Rezq Abdulrahman Abazeid told al-Jazeera. "When they announce at high levels that (protesters) will not be shot at, we see that the truth on the ground is not like that," he said.

Abazeid is the first Syrian religious leader to resign in connection with the current violent suppression of protests.