MIDDLE EAST

24 Killed in Syria Protests

The death toll from Friday's protests in Syria has risen to 24 in what the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called "the biggest demonstration since the Syrian Revolution broke out" in March. Some reports say as many as 3 million people convened across the country. Meanwhile, Syria's obstinate President Bashar al-Assad continues to exercise his power, and has since signed a decree ousting the governor of Hama from his position, while tens of thousands of people protested yesterday. In March, Assad sacked the governor of Daraa after three days of protests in the city. Key opposition leaders are planning a "national salvation" conference in Damascus on July 16 to draw up a blueprint for government transition.