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Syrian protesters call for Assad's execution

Tens of thousands of Syrian protesters shouted Friday for President Bashar Assad's death in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying bullets and rooftop snipers after more than a week of intensified military assaults on rebellious cities, activists and witnesses said.

Security forces killed at least 14 protesters, activists said.

The calls for Assad's execution were a stark sign of how much the protest movement has changed since it erupted in March with demonstrators seeking minor reforms but making no calls for regime change. The protests grew dramatically over the five months that followed, driven in part by anger over the government's bloody crackdown in which rights groups say at least 1,700 civilians have been killed.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday urged countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas or selling the regime weapons.

She said international opinion was hardening against Assad, noting a "crescendo of condemnation" from world powers and Syria's Arab neighbors. But she said tougher action was required, too.

"We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history," she said.

In cities around Syria, protesters chanted, "The people want to execute the president!"

Security forces quickly broke up protests around Damascus and Homs. Some of the largest protests were on the outskirts of the central city of Hama and in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour , where government forces seized control in major military offensives during the past week.

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