WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday criticized attacks on protesters in Syria and urged the government to allow people to demonstrate freely.
"The United States strongly condemns the violence that has taken place in Syria today and calls on the Syrian government to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully," White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said. "Those responsible for today's violence must be held accountable."
Syrian security forces killed three protesters in the southern city of Deraa on Friday, a resident said, in the most violent response to protests against Syria's ruling elite since revolts swept through the Arab world.
Syrian authorities have stepped up arrests of dissidents since the Arab uprisings began in January.
"The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and assembly, and believes that governments, including the Syrian government, must address the legitimate aspirations of their people," Vietor said.
(Writing by Caren Bohan; Editing by Eric Walsh)