Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, July 2011
95 Syrian Protesters Killed in Hama by Army Forces, Scores in Other Cities, on Sunday
July 31, 2011
'Scores killed in fresh Syria violence'
Press TV, Sunday, July 31, 2011 10:25AM GMT S
A human rights activist has claimed that at least
have been killed and several others injured by government forces in the
central city of Hama in Syria.
Activist says 79 people killed in clashes with security forces across Syria
DAMASCUS, July 31, 2011 (Xinhua) --
Activist says around 79 people were killed Sunday in several Syrian cities in clashes with security forces, as army troops in tanks swept into some cities at dawn Sunday.
Abdul-Karim al-Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for Human Rights, told Xinhua by phone that 62 civilians were killed by security forces' gunfire in the central province of Hama, which has witnessed raids by the army at dawn Sunday.
He said 12 people were killed in clashes with security forces in the northeastern province of Deir al-Zour, adding that other civilian was killed in al-Bukamal city, which is close to Dair al- Zoar.
Al-Rihawi said that four people were killed by security gunfire in the southern province of Dera'a, the epicenter of protests.
"The Syrian government seems to resort the security handling to the crisis instead of the political one," said al-Rihawi.
The report, however, could not be independently verified as there is no official comment yet.
Meanwhile, the official SANA news agency reported that at least two law-enforcement members were gunned down Sunday by gunmen in the violence-hit province of Hama.
Gunmen have torched police stations, smashed public and private properties, erected barricades and sand barriers and set tires ablaze in Hama, said Sana, adding that army units are now working to eliminate barriers and barricades.
Quoting residents, Sana said tens of gunmen stationed atop buildings' roofs holding guns and rocket-propelled grenades and fire heavily at residents to terrorize them.
In a related development, Sana said "armed terrorist" groups had targeted with guns Saturday a passenger bus at al-Hawlah region between Homs and Hama in central Syria, killing a woman and wounding nine passengers, some of them in a serious condition.
Quoting a security source, Sana said the bus was heading from the capital Damascus to Messyaf region near Homs with 34 passengers aboard when it came under the fire of masked gunmen.
The source said the gunmen held the passengers for nearly two hours before security forces attacked the militants and free the hostages.
In Dair al-Zoar, Sana said armed groups at the northeastern province of Dair al-Zoar have cut off road and erected barriers in the city's streets, adding that law-enforcement forces have engaged those groups and hunted them down.
Syria has been in unrest since mid March when anti-government protests broke out in the southern province of Dara'a and spread to other cities. The Syrian authorities blamed the unrest on "armed groups and foreign conspiracy" and stressed that it would track down gunmen who have intimidated people and damaged public and private properties.
Editor: Zhang Xiang
Scores feared dead as tanks storm Syrian protest hub
Syrian tanks have launched an assault on the restive city of Hama, home to some of the biggest demonstrations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Residents say scores of civilians have been killed amid intense fighting.
Syrian security forces shot dead at least four civilians in cities around Syria on Friday as thousands took to the streets to protest against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the "silence" of Western powers amidst the deadly crackdown.
Syrian army tanks firing shells and machineguns stormed the city of Hama on Sunday, killing at least 45 civilians in a move to crush demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, residents and activists said,
The government forces began their assault on the city, scene of a 1982 massacre, at dawn after besieging it for nearly a month.
Citing hospital officials, the Syrian Observatory for human rights said the death toll was likely to rise, with dozens badly wounded.
A doctor, who did not want to be further identified for fear of arrest, told Reuters that most bodies were taken to the city’s Badr, al-Horani and Hikmeh hospitals.
Scores of people were wounded and blood for transfusions was in short supply, he said by telephone from the city, which has a population of around 700,000.
“Tanks are attacking from four directions. They are firing their heavy machineguns randomly and overrunning makeshift road blocks erected by the inhabitants,” the doctor said, the sound of machinegun fire crackling in the background.
Hama has particular significance for the anti-government movement as Assad’s father, the late president Hafez al-Assad, sent in his troops to crush an Islamist-led uprising in 1982, razing whole neighbourhoods and killing up to 30,000 people in the bloodiest episode of Syria’s modern history.
Another resident said that in Sunday’s assault, bodies were lying uncollected in the streets and so the death toll would rise. Army snipers had climbed onto the roofs of the state-owned electricity company and the main prison, he said.
Tank shells were falling at the rate of four a minute in and around northern Hama, residents said, and electricity and water supplies to the main neighbourhoods had been cut—a tactic used regularly by the military when storming towns to crush protests.
Assad is trying to end an uprising against his 11-year rule that broke out in March, inspired by the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and has spread across the country.
Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of violence.
In southern Syria, rights campaigners said security forces killed three civilians when they stormed houses in the town of al-Hirak, 35 km (20 miles) northeast of the city of Dera'a.
Local activists and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that dozens of people, including three women, had been arrested.
The Observatory said troops also arrested more than 100 people in the Damascus suburb of Mouadamiyah. A Western diplomat said he saw several tanks enter the suburb
“The regime thinks it can scare people before Ramadan and make them stay home. But especially the people of Hama have shown themselves to be resilient,” he said, referring to the Muslim Holy month, which begins in Syria on Monday.
The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, visited Hama earlier this month in a gesture of international support for what he described as peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, once one of Assad’s main allies, said in May “we do not want to see another Hama massacre”, and warned the 45-year-old president that it would be hard to contain the consequences if it were repeated.
The Syrian leadership blames “armed groups” for most killings during the revolt, saying that more than 500 soldiers and security personnel have been killed.
An activist group, Avaaz, said in a report last week that Syrian security forces had killed 1,634 people in the course of their crackdown, while at least 2,918 had disappeared. A further 26,000 had been arrested, many of whom were beaten and tortured, and 12,617 remained in detention, it said.
Assault in east
In the east of the country, Syrian forces began an assault two days ago in a tribal oil-producing province on the border with Iraq’s Sunni heartland.
Residents said at least 11 civilians were killed in the eastern provincial capital of Dair Al-Zoar on Saturday and Sunday, the second day of a tank-and helicopter-backed attack on the city.
“There are army tanks in the streets, but most of the deaths have been at the hands of Military Intelligence,” one of the residents, an engineer, told Reuters, referring to the secret police divison that has been spearheading the assaults in Dair Al-Zoar.
The Syrian Revolution Coordination Union, said 57 soldiers in Dair Al-Zoar, including two lieutenants and a captain, had defected to the demonstrators. It said residents had formed local committees and erected makeshift barriers to try to halt the advance of tanks and armoured vehicles inside the city.
“More tank columns are heading to Dair Al-Zoar. By using heavy weapons, security forces are waging war against their own people,” the group said in a statement.
The official state news agency said: “Armed groups in Dair Al-Zoar cut off roads, terrorised citizens and attacked police.”
It added: “An exchange of fire occurred. The police forces confronted these armed groups and are still chasing them... The inhabitants of Dair Al-Zoar have expressed their rejection of these actions which are bad for the homeland.”
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