Activists Say Syrian Forces Continue Deadly Crackdown

Posted August 15th, 2011 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
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Rights activists say Syrian security forces have killed a man in Latakia, continuing a deadly crackdown on dissent in the port city for a third day.

Tank fire has been reported in several neighborhoods and witnesses say residents are trying to flee the city.

Activists and witnesses say at least 26 people were killed Saturday and Sunday in Latakia as the military blasted the city with gunfire from the sea, and troops in tanks and vehicles mounted with machine guns fired on coastal areas. The government operation comes after protesters massed in Latakia and other cities on Friday and renewed calls for President Bashar al-Assad's resignation.

Meanwhile, activists say security forces backed by tanks have also carried out arrests and raids in the town of Houla, near the flashpoint city of Homs.

The Syrian government has offered a different account of events in Latakia. On Sunday, the state-run SANA news agency said law enforcement officials were chasing heavily armed gunmen who had “terrified” residents in the city. The government has blamed much of the country's deadly unrest on “armed groups” and “terrorists.”

President Assad has been facing growing international condemnation for the crackdown, and the United Nations Security Council is planning to meet Thursday to consider further action against the Syrian government.

Details of events in Syria are difficult to independently verify because the government allows very few foreign news reporters into the country and restricts their movements.

Rights groups and activists say at least 1,700 people have been killed since the start of the government's crackdown.