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UN, U.S. Criticize Deadly Syrian Crackdown On Protesters

The United Nations and the United States have criticized a crackdown on protesters by Syrian authorities in which at least four people are reported to have been killed.

The violence occurred on March 18 in the southern town of Daraa, when security forces were reported to have opened fire to disperse hundreds of protesters.

It was one of several protests in Syrian cities on March 18 calling for greater political freedoms in one of the Middle East's most repressive states.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators and the arbitrary arrests of demonstrators was "unacceptable," and urged Syrian authorities to refrain from violence.

The White House National Security Council said the Obama administration "strongly" condemned the violence, and called on the Syrian government to allow demonstrations to take place peacefully.

compiled from agency reports