Those hoping that the arrival of human rights observers from the Arab League in Syria would prevent the army from firing on unarmed protestors appear to have been suffering from wisful thinking.
Syrian security forces have reportedly clashed with protesters, leaving at least 10 dead, as tens of thousands took to the streets across the country.
Activists said several people were injured when troops opened fire to disperse a demonstration in Douma, a suburb of the capital, Damascus.
At least five were killed in Deraa and another five in Hama, they added.
The opposition called on people to join rallies to show Arab League monitors the scale of anti-government anger.
The monitors are visiting the country to verify the government's implementation of a peace initiative, which demands an end to all violence, troops pulled off the streets and political prisoners freed.
Up to 40 protesters were reportedly killed on Thursday while awaiting visits from monitors, who fanned out across the country for the first time.
Assad blames the violence on "armed gangs and terrorists." That's his story and he's sticking with it despite the presence of the Arab League observers.
Will the Arab League play along? It's hard to justify Assad's actions when there's a child bleeding from a gunshot wound lying in the street. But the Arab League has a history of pretending when it comes to some of the more brutal tyrants in their midst. In short, there is no guarantee that the League will do anything more to deter Assad from his bloody crackdown.