BEIRUT, Lebanon - Syrian forces fired on funeral processions and clashed with army defectors Saturday, killing at least 12 people as France called on the international community to "save the Syrian people."
The nine-month-old uprising against Syria's authoritarian president, Bashar al-Assad, has grown increasingly violent in recent months, as once-peaceful protesters took up arms and rebel soldiers fought back against the army.
Some of the worst bloodshed has been in Homs, the central city that has emerged as the epicenter of the revolt, and there are concerns a renewed assault could be imminent.
In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry said France was "deeply concerned" and warned Syrian authorities they would be held responsible for any action against the population.
"The entire international community must mobilize to save the Syrian people," the statement said.
Despite the relentless bloodshed, Assad has refused to buckle under to pressure to step down and has shown no signs of easing his crackdown.
Syria has banned most foreign journalists and prevented local reporters from moving freely. Accounts from activists and witnesses, along with amateur videos posted online, are key channels of information.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in Britain and the local coordinating committees tallied the death toll and other details of Saturday's bloodshed using a network of sources on the ground.
The groups said security forces fired on several funeral processions and that there were fierce clashes between soldiers and army defectors. Many of the dead were in Homs.
The Arab League has imposed economic sanctions and travel bans to try to end the violence, adding to measures already taken by the United States, European Union, Turkey, and others.
An Arab League official said the bloc would meet this week in Cairo to discuss an Arab-brokered plan calling for sending an observer mission into the country. Syria has agreed to the plan in principle but with several major conditions, including the annulment of sanctions.