Rights Activists Say Syrian Forces Stage Fresh Raids

Posted August 17th, 2011 at 7:10 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian rights activists say government security forces have carried out fresh raids in several parts of the country, and that a man has been shot dead in a northern village near the Turkish border.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday a bullet killed the man as he stood on a balcony in Idlib province.

The group also said security forces have detained dozens of people while carrying out raids in the capital, Damascus.

Syrian state media said Tuesday government security forces have begun moving out of the port city of Latakia, where rights activists say the troops killed at least 35 people in a four-day crackdown on opposition demonstrators.

The state-run SANA news agency said the military has completed its mission and blamed unrest in the city on “terrorist groups.”

Activists and residents said security forces used heavy machine gun fire on Tuesday, and that at least five people were killed in the city.

Syria also said Tuesday it has begun withdrawing its forces from Deir el-Zour, about a week after launching attacks on the eastern town.

President Bashar al-Assad is facing growing international condemnation for the violent crackdown.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the situation in Syria is “galvanizing international opinion” against Mr. Assad's government. She said the United States is pushing for stronger sanctions against Syria and hopes countries with closer economic ties to the country will join those efforts.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said Tuesday he was “appalled by the ongoing repression of civilians,” and that Mr. Assad was “losing his last shreds” of legitimacy.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session next week to discuss the Syrian government's escalating crackdown. Diplomats say the meeting could take place as early as Monday.

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