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As many as 34 killed in Syrian crackdown

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As many as 34 killed in Syrian crackdown

Child among dead when security forces fire on protesters

Syrian security forces fired on protesters rallying against President Bashar al-Assad's government Friday, killing as many as 34, according to news reports quoting witnesses and activists.

The New York Times reported that thousands of protesters took to the streets in several cities across Syria, including the capital Damascus, demanding reform.

Troops fired live rounds at protesters in the central city of Homs, killing at least 12 people, including a child, according to Agence France-Presse. Other deaths were reported in the northern town of Maaret al-Numan, the southern village of Sanamein and the Damascus suburb of Daraya.

Shots also were reportedly fired at demonstrators in the Mediterranean port of Banias.

Syria has launched a bloody crackdown over the past two months, using the army and security forces to quell an unprecedented uprising against Assad. Human rights groups saying more than 850 people have been killed.

In a major speech on the Middle East on Thursday—a day after the United States imposed sanctions on Assad and six of his aides—President Barack Obama called on the Syrian president to lead a transition to democracy or "get out of the way," CBS reports

Washington has said it would hold Assad's regime personally accountable for the deadly attacks by the security forces.

Accounts of deaths during protests cannot be independently verified as Syria has banned foreign journalists from the country.

This article originally appeared on GlobalPost.

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