DAMASCUS, Syria, June 3 (UPI) -- At least 27 people were killed by Syrian forces Friday during anti-government protests in memory of children slain during the violence, activists said.
At least 50,000 people took to the streets in Syria following Friday prayers. The demonstrations were in memory of the estimated 30 children killed during the Syrian violence, the BBC reports.
Activists said at least 27 people were killed in a security crackdown on the demonstrations, the broadcaster adds. Syria's state television blamed "terrorist gangs" for much of the violence.
UNICEF this week said it was "particularly disturbed" by video reportedly showing pictures of children who were allegedly tortured at the hands of Syrian security forces.
Francis Deng, a U.N. special envoy on the prevention of genocide, and Edward Luck, special envoy on the responsibility to protect civilians, in a joint statement expressed grave concern over the level of violence in Syria.
"We are particularly alarmed at the apparently systematic and deliberate attacks by police, military and other security forces against unarmed civilians taking part in the last two months of protests," they said. "These attacks have reportedly resulted in many hundreds of deaths."
Syrian President Bashar Assad has announced a series of reform measures during the unrest, though Washington said his legitimacy has all-but evaporated.