Syrian Rights Activists Say Hundreds Flee Hama

Posted July 7th, 2011 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

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

A Syrian activist monitoring developments in Hama told VOA in a telephone interview that dozens of families left the city Thursday. She said military forces have surrounded the city with tanks, and security patrols have detained more than 100 civilians inside Hama.

She confirmed reports from rights groups that at least 25 people have been killed and more than 40 wounded in Hama in recent days. Troops had pushed through improvised barriers and roadblocks set up by Hama residents after massive anti-government protests.

The city is an important example of Syrian resistance against the Assad regime. In 1982, President Bashar al-Assad's father used military force to silence a rebellion there, killing thousands.

As the current crackdown widens, Amnesty International says that Syrian forces may have committed crimes against humanity during an operation last month near the Lebanese border.

The London-based rights group on Wednesday accused Syria 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.