WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States applauded the courage and dignity of demonstrators in Syria, renewing its frequent condemnations of political violence, which killed another nine people on Friday.
“We condemn and deplore the use of violence against citizens demonstrating in Syria, and applaud the courage and dignity of the Syrian people,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.
“We urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence, and call on the Syrian government to respect human rights and to allow for peaceful demonstrations.”
Following President Bashar al-Assad’s speech this week, which disappointed reform campaigners, Carney said the Syrian government had an opportunity to respond to the legitimate aspirations of its people.
“President Bashar al-Assad has a responsibility to promptly take concrete steps and actions that deliver on his promises and advance a meaningful reform agenda,” Carney said.
“Violence is not the answer to the grievances of the Syrian people. What is needed now is a credible path to a future of greater freedom, democracy, opportunity, and justice.”
Earlier, Syrian security forces opened fire on protesters north of Damascus and in the south of the country, killing at least nine people, a witness and a human rights activist told AFP.
The shootings came as thousands of Syrians staged demonstrations after Friday prayers as a deepening political crisis escalated further.
An official denied any involvement by the security forces in Douma, blaming gunmen for shooting at protesters from rooftops, killing several people and wounding dozens including policemen.
Assad, facing domestic pressure unprecedented in his 11-year rule, failed to lift almost 50 years of emergency rule in his first address to the nation since the protests began this week.