Government Tanks Shell Northern Syrian Province

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 5:15 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists say government tanks have moved into the northern province of Idlib, the latest move in an on-going, violent crackdown against protesters calling for an end to the Syrian president's 11-year rule.

Activists say several tanks rolled into the village of Rama overnight, sending more people fleeing to Syria's border with Turkey, where thousands have sought refuge from the violence.

On Tuesday, Russian envoy Mikhail Margelov said Moscow wants Syria to implement “real” reforms and “put an end to violence” that has shaken the country since the start of a pro-democracy uprising in March.

A group of exiled Syrian opposition activists in the Russian capital urged the envoy to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad into stopping a violent crackdown, which is now in its third month.

Margelov said Russia is “seriously concerned” about the situation in Syria and does not want it to descend into a Libya-style civil war. Russia has been a major supplier of weapons to Syria since the Soviet era.

Russia has rejected Western-led efforts to pass a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Syria over the crackdown.

Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian opposition should focus on entering talks with the Assad government on proposed reforms.