Hama Official Resigns Over Syrian Crackdown

Posted September 1st, 2011 at 5:30 am (UTC-5)
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The attorney general in the central Syrian city of Hama says he has resigned because of the government's deadly crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

In a video posted on YouTube, Adnan Bakkour says he is stepping down because security forces killed 72 prisoners in Hama at the end of July and more than 400 others during a siege of the city in August.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says the resignation message is false, and that Bakkour was forced to make the comments by “armed terrorist groups” that kidnapped him earlier this week.

Activists and residents said Wednesday security forces backed by tanks made arrests in Hama and hunted for leaders behind the five-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

They said hundreds of troops emerged from buses parked on the city's outskirts and searched two neighborhoods, al-Qusour and al-Hamidiya. The soldiers asked by name for people known or suspected to be involved in planning the widespread demonstrations.

It is not clear how many people were detained.

Hama has seen some of the country's biggest protests demanding an end to Mr. Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

Also Wednesday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 360 civilians and 113 members of the army and security forces were killed during the just-ended Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The Syrian government has blamed much of the country's violence on what it calls armed gangs and terrorists.