Syrian security forced killed at least 44 people, mostly in the cities of Hama and Homs, an activist group said Friday as regional pressure increases on President Bashar al-Assad to stop a violent crackdown on protesters.

The Syrian revolution General Commission communicated the death toll in a statement, according to Al-Jazeera

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said people staged a mass demonstration in Kafr Nabl, a town in Idlib, near the Turkish border, and demanded the “imposition of a no-fly zone” over the country.

The Observatory said a similar call was made in Homs.

The United Nations estimates more than 3,000 civilians have been killed in clashes related to the protests, which have called for al-Assad to step down, and allow greater speech, press, assembly and political freedoms.

On Friday, Reuters reported the Arab League’s committee on the Syrian crisis said it had sent an “urgent message … to the Syrian government expressing its severe discontent for the continued killing of Syrian civilians.

The committee said it had “expressed hope that the Syrian government would take action to protect civilians.”

The Arab League officials met with Syrian President al-Assad this week, urging a resolution to the matter. Al-Assad and League representatives will meet again on Oct. 30.

Also on Friday, China’s envoy to the Middle East, Wu Sike visited Syria, saying he supported regional efforts to help resolve the crisis, but said the solutions should come from within Syria, according to Al Arabiya News.

China, along with Russia vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Syria for a crackdown on protestors that imposed targeted measures against regime unless it stopped the violence.