Washington: As the western media circulated reports claiming that at least 88 people were killed in Syria, US President Barack Obama has condemned the Syrian authorities for using force to quell nationwide protests against Bashar Assad's regime.

The reports stated that the security forces opened fire and used teargas against demonstrators who demanded political freedom and an end to corruption. 

"The US condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators. This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now,” Obama said in a statement.

Syrian mass protests started in Daraa on the border with Jordan March 18. They were prompted by the arrest of a group of school students who wrote anti-government mottos on walls.  

The unrest later spread to other Syrian regions.  At least 300 people have been killed in protests and clashes that have erupted in the country since mid-March, as per Syrian opposition. 

In response to the protests, Assad formed a new government, promised a score of political and economic reforms, and even lifted on Tuesday the almost five-decade long state of emergency in the country. 

However, these measures have failed to pacify the opposition prompting the government to resort to violence in dealing with the protesters.

(Agencies)