Another series of demonstrations after Friday noon prayers in Syria has reportedly ended in bloodshed. Protesters told Anthony Shadid at The New York Times that security forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad opened fire on the demonstrators who took to the streets across the country, killing seven in the nation's capital Qaboun, one in Dara'a, one in Homs, and three in Iblib in the country's northwest. That would make 12, but meanwhile, the BBC puts the number killed at 14. Protesters at some of the gatherings this week numbered in the tens of thousands, a clear signal that the Syrian people remain unsatisfied with al-Assad's regime and lack of acquiescence to even meeting with opposition. Reports Shadid:

Four months into the uprising, some activists have spoken of a stalemate, as the government trumpets tentative and ambiguous steps toward reform while a fractious and immature opposition struggles to provide some kind of alternative. Meetings of opposition figures are scheduled to take place on Saturday inside Syria and in neighboring Turkey, but divisions have threatened to derail the meetings. Though the government allowed a rare opposition meeting last month, some fear that security forces may now seek to prevent one from convening in Damascus.

The activists show no sign of yielding. Al Jazeera reports that the massive protests for "freedom of prisoners" day are the largest since mid-March.