Syrian Troops Clash with Gunmen in the North

Posted June 12th, 2011 at 7:00 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian state media say government troops clashed Sunday with gunmen in a northern city, as international outrage mounted at Syria's brutal crackdown on protesters.

The government has accused “armed gangs” in Jisr al-Shughour of killing security personnel. State media say troops have taken up positions in and around the city to confront the groups.

The town, near the border with Turkey, has been the focus of military operations for days. Thousands of people have fled to Turkey to escape the bloodshed.

The United States on Saturday accused the Syrian government of creating a humanitarian crisis in northern Syria and urged Damascus to halt its violent targeting of protesters.

A White House statement also called on the Syrian authorities to give the Red Cross “immediate, unfettered access” to this region.

Also Saturday, mourners across Syria buried at least 32 people killed during rallies against President Bashar al-Assad's government a day earlier.

Activists say security forces opened fire on demonstrators in several cities. They say at least seven protesters were killed in the town of Latakia as they tried to tear down a giant poster of Mr. Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Syria is engaging in “horrific” attacks against its citizens. But, she says the international community is not currently considering a plan to act militarily against Syria – as in Libya – because there is not a regional consensus.

U.N. diplomats have held talks on a draft resolution condemning the violence, but have failed to reach an agreement. Many Western nations support the measure, but Russia and China have voiced 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.