Syrian Forces Kill 11; Govt. Criticized by France

Posted September 7th, 2011 at 11:56 am (UTC-5)
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Activists say Syrian security forces have killed at least 11 more people during new raids against anti-government protest, while the French foreign minister has accused Damascus of committing “crimes against humanity.”

The activists say the majority of Wednesday's deaths took place in the central Homs region. They say Syrian security forces, backed by tanks, swept into the flashpoint city early in the day. Activists say phones and Internet service were cut off in many parts of the city.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe condemned Syria's ongoing crackdown and said international sanctions against Damascus are justified. He commented during a Wednesday meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Moscow.

Juppe urged Russia to take a stronger stance against Syria. But Lavrov said Russia still favors using dialogue to resolve Syria's strife.

On Saturday, Russia criticized the European Union for imposing an embargo on Syria oil.

Meanwhile, the head of the Arab League has delayed a visit to Syria, which was expected to begin Wednesday. The league says Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby now plans to visit Syria on Saturday.

Elaraby has said he wants to express Arab concerns about the violence in Syria and listen to the opinions of Syrian leaders. In late August, Syrian authorities rejected an Arab League statement calling for an end to the bloodshed.

The United Nations estimates 2,200 people have been killed since March after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad launched the crackdown on dissent. However, Syria has blamed much of the violence on armed gangs and “terrorists.”