Sunday, May 29, 2011

Syrian death toll rises as forces widen military crackdown on protests

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Killings occured in Talbiseh and Rastan, says human rights campaigner, as residents report tanks and machinegun fire

The Guardian, Monday 30 May 2011

"Syrian forces killed at least 11 civilians and wounded scores on Sunday, a prominent human rights campaigner said, in a widening military push into central Syria to quell protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad.

Tanks, supported by troops, fired heavy machineguns in the towns of Talbiseh and Rastan and several villages near the city of Homs, residents reported.....

The killings occurred in and around the towns of Talbiseh and Rastan in rural Homs, human rights lawyer Razan Zaitouna said by telephone from Damascus. Earlier, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said it had the names of eight civilians killed.

"Soldiers are now all over Talbiseh. They are breaking into houses and arresting people," one resident in the town of 60,000 said in a telephone interview as the sound of bullets echoed in the background.....

Another witness in Rastan, further to the north, said the town's main clinic was full of wounded people and there was no way to get them to a hospital because of heavy tank fire.

"This is pure revenge," said the witness, a lawyer who declined to be named for fear of reprisals. Thousands of protesters in Rastan on Friday demanded the removal of Assad in one of the largest demonstrations in the region since the uprising against the government erupted in southern Syria on March 18.....

The lawyer said internet, water, electricity, land lines and most mobile telephone links had been cut, a step commonly used by the military before they storm urban centres."

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