Thousands of Syrians marched through a Damascus suburb Sunday in funerals for those killed in new protests, as the president appointed a former agriculture minister to form a new government as part of limited gestures to those calling for sweeping political change.
Human rights groups and activists say at least 10 people were killed during protests Friday in Douma, just outside the Syrian capital, and in nearby areas.
The crowds shouted "We want Freedom" and "Douma and Daraa, one hand," in a reference to a drought-stricken and impoverished city in the south from where Syria's protests began on March 18.
"It looks like all of Douma is out on the streets today," said a witness, speaking by telephone on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The witness said there was no sign of security forces in Douma Sunday, adding that mourning tents for receiving condolences were set up in the city later.
The violence in Douma Friday was some of the worst seen in two weeks of bloody protests in Syria, during which at least 80 people have died, according to rights groups.
Activists said protesters had come under attack by security forces as they left the Grand Mosque chanting slogans for freedom. The troops hit people with clubs and threw stones before firing tear gas and finally live ammunition.
Authorities blamed Friday's bloodshed on "armed gangs" and President Bashar Assad has described the unrest as a foreign-influenced conspiracy against Syria.
The funerals came as President Bashar al-Assad asked former agriculture minister Adel Safar to form a new government in a fresh bid to quell pro-reform protests and after he came short of lifting emergency laws in place since 1963.
Safar's government will replace the outgoing cabinet of Naji al-Otari, whose resignation Assad accepted on Tuesday. Two days later the president made a series of limited reform pledges, including setting up committees to replace emergency law with anti-terrorism legislation, and address Kurdish grievances.
Ministers have little influence in Syria, where power is held by Assad, his family and the security apparatus. Safar will have little if no say in how authorities react to protests.