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Syrian death toll rises as Arabs protest

Syria defied Arab isolation and mounting international anger on Monday as President Bashar al-Assad's security forces continued attacks on pro-democracy protesters across the country.

world Updated: Aug 10, 2011 00:27 IST

Syria defied Arab isolation and mounting international anger on Monday as President Bashar al-Assad's security forces continued attacks on pro-democracy protesters across the country.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, urged al-Assad to return his troops to barracks and release all prisoners, one of the bluntest demands yet made of the Syrian leader, after regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia led a rare chorus of Arab states in condemning the repression.

Reports from Deir al-Zor described artillery and heavy machinegun fire and snipers on roofs as troops and intelligence agents carried out mass arrests in the north-eastern city. On Sunday, 42 people were killed there, nudging the death total during five months of the uprising to more than 2,000.

In Hama, security forces were reported to have deployed an anti-aircraft gun to fire on civilians, diplomats said. Videos purported to show gunfire, shelling and corpses from violence over the weekend. Three people were reported to have been shot during a funeral in Deraa.