Death Toll in Syrian Town Rises to 25 as Clashes Continue

Posted June 5th, 2011 at 11:25 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian human rights activists say the death toll in a government crackdown on protesters in the northern town of Jisr al-Shughour has risen to 25.

Violent clashes between protesters and government forces began Saturday and continued into Sunday, after thousands of people turned out for the funerals of other anti-government protesters killed in the crackdown.

Rights groups also say at least 63 people died Friday, most in the town of Hama, about 300 kilometers north of Damascus. Witnesses say security forces used live ammunition to try to disperse tens of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in Hama after Friday prayers, demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.

Demonstrations also took place in Damascus and other cities, following a call by opposition groups to denounce a growing number of casualties among children in recent weeks of the uprising against Mr. Assad.

Syrian opposition activists have been protesting almost daily since March for democratic reforms and an end to President Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

Despite official denials, protest organizers say at least 25 children have died. The victims include a 13-year-old boy who was reported to have been tortured and killed by security forces – an accusation that Syrian authorities dispute.