Army defectors ambushed dozens of Syrian troops and regime forces gunned down civilians in one of the bloodiest days of the country's 8-month-old uprising, which appeared Tuesday to be spiraling out of President Bashar Assad's control.
Up to 90 people were killed in a gruesome wave of violence Monday, activists said. The extent of the bloodshed only came to light Tuesday, in part because corpses lying in the streets did not reach the morgue until daylight.
As the bloodshed spiked, Assad's former allies were turning on him in rapid succession, a sign of profound impatience that he has failed to stem months of unrest that could explode into a regional conflagration.
Turkey, Jordan and the 22-member Arab League all signaled they were fed up with Assad's response to the uprising and were ready to pressure him to go.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday he has lost confidence in the government led by Assad, a 46-year-old eye doctor who inherited power from his father 11 years ago.
"No regime can survive by killing or jailing," said Erdogan, who cultivated close ties with Assad before the uprising in March.
A day earlier, Jordan's king said Assad should step down, the first Arab leader to publicly make such a call. Over the weekend, the 22-member Arab League voted nearly unanimously to suspend Damascus.
Despite the widespread condemnation, Assad was unlikely to end the crackdown, said Fadia Kiwan, a political science professor at Beirut's St. Joseph University. The reason is simple: Assad's regime would almost certainly fall if the crackdown ends, she said.