AMMAN (Reuters/AFP) - Syrians took to the streets in large numbers again on Wednesday in the central city of Homs where activists say more than 20 pro-democracy protesters have been shot dead since Monday by soldiers and irregular forces. Protesters chanted for "the downfall of the regime," in defiance of a heavy deployment of security forces and a warning by officials to stop all forms of demonstrations. The protest also went ahead despite a concession by the government which approved legislation on Tuesday to end the state of emergency in force for the last 48 years. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday strongly condemned "ongoing violence" by the Syrian government against demonstrators, saying Damascus needed to launch a "serious political process" to end deadly unrest. Clinton said the United States was particularly concerned about conditions in Homs, where at least 10 people were reported killed in clashes on Tuesday after 20,000 people staged an overnight sit-in protest demanding President Bashar al-Assad's ouster. In the city of Banias, in what was seen as another attempt to mollify protesters, the chief of security police was sacked, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Five civilians were killed in Banias last week and residents identified Amjad Abbas, the fired police chief, as one of the officers seen beating a villager in the nearby town of Baida, the Observatory said, citing sources in Damascus. Along with the bill on emergency law, the newly appointed cabinet also approved legislation that requires Syrians to seek permission from the state before they demonstrate. Security forces had sealed off Banias last week after demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad and an attack by irregular forces loyal to him on men guarding a Sunni mosque. Inspired by uprisings across the Arab world, demonstrators have taken to the streets for more than a month demanding greater freedoms, undaunted by a security crackdown. Rights groups, which say more than 200 have been killed since the unrest started, have called for independent investigations into the actions of security forces.