Slain Syrian Teen Becomes Rallying Symbol for Protesters

Posted June 1st, 2011 at 1:40 pm (UTC-5)
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A Syrian teenager who activists say was tortured and killed by security forces has become a rallying force for anti-government protesters during a continuing government crackdown that has killed hundreds.

Witnesses say protesters in Syria have marched with pictures of 13-year-old Hamza al-Khatib. Videos posted on the Internet of his bloodied corpse have fueled international outrage.

The teenager spent nearly a month in custody before his body was released last month to his family with bullet wounds on his arms and stomach.

Syrian authorities deny Khatib was tortured by security forces, saying he was killed by armed gangs during a protest.

Human rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed at least 1,000 civilians in the unrest. The United States and the European Union have reacted by imposing sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.