At Least 28 Killed in Syria Clashes

Posted June 10th, 2011 at 4:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces have shot and killed at least 28 people in crackdowns on anti-government protests and a confrontation in the northwestern province.

Witnesses and activists say at least 10 of Friday's deaths occurred in the northwestern province of Idlib. The military shelled targets in the provincial city of Maaret al-Numan. State-run news reports said an armed group had attacked security forces in the city and set several government buildings on fire.

Also, the Reuters news agency quotes witnesses who say Syrian forces in helicopters fired on anti-government demonstrations in the city.

Meanwhile, witnesses and activists say security forces used live ammunition to disperse anti-government protesters in several other cities. They say protesters were killed in Damascus and in the southern Daraa region.

A separate military siege is unfolding in Jisr al-Shughour, a town in the northern region near the Turkish border. Military forces moved into the town after the government said “armed gangs” in the region had killed 120 security personnel.

Residents of the town have been fleeing, many of them into neighboring Turkey. Turkish news reports said Friday the number of Syrians who had crossed the border had swelled to about 3,000.

Diplomatic efforts to quiet Syria's unrest are unfolding on several fronts.

United Nations diplomats held new talks on Friday on a draft resolution that calls on the Security Council to condemn the Syrian government's crackdown. Many Western nations back the measure but Russia and China have voiced opposition.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the Syrian government for its crackdown on protests. The semi-official Anatolia news agency quotes him as calling the crackdown an “atrocity” and saying the Syrian government has not behaved “humanely.” He added that Turkey is making plans for a refugee buffer zone on the border.

Russian special envoy Mikhail Margelov said Friday that he planned to meet soon with representatives of Syria's opposition.

Rights groups say at least 1,100 people have been killed in the Syrian crackdown that began in March and more than 10,000 people arrested.