Syrian Rights Activist: Hundreds Flee Hama

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 7:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A Syrian human rights group says hundreds of people are fleeing the central city of Hama for fear of a military crackdown by security forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says dozens of families left the city Thursday. Activists say Syrian security forces opened fire on civilians there Tuesday, killing at least 22 people and wounding more than 50.

Troops had pushed through improvised barriers and roadblocks set up by Hama residents after massive anti-government protests.

Activists say forces also entered northwest Idlib province on Tuesday as part of the government's widening crackdown on dissent.

The latest violence comes as Amnesty International said that Syrian forces may have committed crimes against humanity during an operation last month near the Lebanese border.

The London-based rights group accused Syria Wednesday of rounding up scores of male residents in the town of Talkalakh and torturing most of them. It quotes witnesses who say at least nine people died in custody.

Amnesty International said the action appeared to be part of a “widespread, systematic attack against the civilian population” that constitute crimes against humanity. It urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

Rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed at least 1,400 civilians since mid-March while trying to suppress the anti-government uprising. The Syrian government says terrorists and Islamist militants have killed hundreds of security personnel during the same period.