Tanks in Hama

Dozens killed as Syria army storms Hama

At least 45 civilians killed and death toll may rise further, residents say. Three civilians killed in southern Syria according to human rights campaigners

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 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.


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 neighborhoods had been cut - a tactic used regularly by the military when storming towns to crush protests.


Three killed in al-Hirak

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 Deraa.


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.



פרסום ראשון: 07.31.11, 12:59
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