Syrian activists say a wave of violence has killed more than 70 people in Syria in one day.
The activists say many of those killed on Monday are Syrian soldiers who came under attack by army defectors in the southern province of Daraa.
And in the restive city of Homs, the city morgue has received 19 corpses, all of them with bullet wounds.
President Bashar Assad’s regime has been trying to crush an uprising for the past eight months, but the movement has not abated. The U.N. estimates the regime’s military crackdown on dissent has killed 3,500 people so far.
The latest death toll comes from the Local Coordination Committees, an activist coalition, morgue figures and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.(See more on Syrian unrest and neighboring Lebanon.)
The violence appeared focused in the southern province of Daraa.
It is common to have a discrepancy in figures, because the Syrian government has prevented independent reporting and barred most foreign journalists. Details gathered by activist groups and witnesses are key channels of information.
Assad is facing the most severe isolation of his family’s four-decade rule in Syria. On Monday, Jordan’s king said Assad should step down for the good of his country, the first Arab leader to publicly make such a call.
Syria’s crackdown on an 8-month-old uprising has brought international condemnation, but Damascus generally has been spared broad reproach in the Arab world. That changed Saturday, with a near-unanimous vote by the 22-member Arab League to suspend Syria.
Earlier Monday, Syria struck back at its international critics, branding an Arab League decision to suspend its membership as “shameful and malicious” and accusing other Arabs of conspiring with the West to undermine the regime.
The sharp rebuke suggests Damascus fears the United States and its allies might use the rare Arab consensus to press for tougher sanctions at the United Nations.
Assad says extremists pushing a foreign agenda to destabilize Syria are behind the unrest, not true reform-seekers aiming to open the country’s autocratic political system.