Activists: Syrian Troops Kill 7 in Northern Villages

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 8:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian security forces have attacked several villages in the country's northwest, killing at least seven civilians as part of a months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

The rights groups say Syrian tanks shelled the village of Rameh in Idlib province Wednesday, prompting many residents to flee as soldiers conducted searches for dissidents. They say Syrian forces also rolled into the villages of Ihsim, Marayn and al-Bara – known for its Roman-era ruins.

Details of the latest violence could not be independently confirmed because Syria allows very few foreign news reporters into the country, and such visitors do not have full freedom of movement.

Also Wednesday, the French news agency reported that hundreds of lawyers in Syria's second-largest city, Aleppo, staged a sit-in, calling for freedom and the release of prisoners.

AFP also reported that pro-democracy activists called for a rally Thursday in Aleppo, where anti-government activity has been largely muted since protests demanding an end to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule broke out in March.

More than 12,000 Syrians have fled into Turkey and hundreds more into Lebanon to escape the violence in their homeland.

Rights groups say more than 1,400 people have been killed in the violence, most of them unarmed protesters.