By Nada Bakri, Aug 19, 2011 — BEIRUT, Lebanon — Thousands of Syrians took to the streets on Friday to call for the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad, keeping up the pressure in the five-month uprising a day after an alliance led by the United States toughened sanctions against his government and publicly called on him for the first time to step down. At least 18 people were reported killed, including some soldiers who disobeyed orders to shoot at protesters.
The deadly repression, in the face of rising international condemnation of Mr. Assad, suggested his own stubbornness was hardening. . . .