Activists Say Syrian Troops Surround Central Town

Posted August 29th, 2011 at 4:35 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian rights activists say government security forces have surrounded a central town that has been the site of protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The activists said troops surrounding the town of Rastan fired machine guns Monday, continuing a crackdown against a 5-month-old pro-democracy uprising. Rastan is located about 20 kilometers north of Homs on a highway that connects to the flashpoint city of Hama.

The operation comes a day after Syria rejected an Arab League statement calling for an end to the deadly violence that has shaken the country. The 22-member Arab organization – of which Syria is a member – on Sunday urged Syria to stop the “bloodshed” in the country “before it is too late.”

The United Nations has said more than 2,200 people have been killed since March, when protesters began calling for reforms and an end to Mr. Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

The Syrian government has blamed the violence on what it calls armed gangs and terrorists backed by foreign conspirators.