Sunday, July 31, 2011

Government forces, protesters clash in Syria, killing 67 (figure now as high as 120+)

Syrian tanks stormed the flashpoint city of Hama early Sunday in one of several clashes nationwide that left at least 67 dead and more than 100 injured, human rights groups said.

At least 49 people were killed in Hama and 13 in neighboring Deir Ezzour, the London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights told CNN. Two others were killed in Soran, on the outskirts of Hama. And three people were killed in Daraa province, the group said.

The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said security forces were responding to "armed groups" in Hama who blocked streets with barricades and terrorized citizens by firing from the rooftops of buildings, while human rights groups described the arrival of tanks as a raid on the city.

Two police officers were killed in clashes in Hama, SANA said, and "armed terrorist groups" had taken to the streets in Deir Ezzour, attacking police headquarters and stealing weapons.

"The law-enforcement forces are still pursuing these armed groups and deal with the situation there in suitable ways," the government news agency said.

In Hama, throngs of residents to take to the streets in an attempt to block the tanks, a local activist said. More than 100 were injured in the city, according to the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.

Tanks rolling near the border met fierce resistance from residents, said Omar al Habbal, a member of the committees, an affiliation of groups that reports on protests in the nation. (more)