Syria Releases Hundreds of Prisoners, 7 Killed in Latest Unrest

Posted November 30th, 2011 at 12:45 pm (UTC-5)
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Syria has announced the release of more than 900 prisoners, while activists say fresh clashes have erupted in the flashpoint Daraa province.

The government said Wednesday it had released 912 people involved in the “latest events” but who were not linked to what the government alleges are “murders” stemming from the opposition uprising and state crackdown.

The state-run SANA news agency says more than 1,700 other detainees were freed earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says Syrian forces in armored vehicles have moved into a village near the city of Daraa.

The head of the London-based rights group told VOA clashes erupted in the town of Dael as security forces pushed into the area. He said witnesses heard a loud explosion as army vehicles were blown up, killing seven Syrian troops.

Syria is facing mounting international pressure for its crackdown on dissent.

Turkey says it is freezing the assets of Syrian leaders and taking other steps to pressure them into stopping the crackdown.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced the sanctions in a news conference Wednesday.

He says the measures include cutting off links with Syria's central bank, banning the delivery of weapons to the country and suspending the two neighbors' strategic cooperation agreement.

The world's largest Muslim body, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), says it opposes moves to take the crisis to the international community.

But diplomats say the United Nations Human Rights Council will hold an urgent meeting on Friday to discuss Syria's unrest. The United Nations says violence related to the uprising has killed at least 3,500 people, mostly civilians.

Syria has refused to end the crackdown, calling it a necessary response to attacks by “armed terrorists” on civilians and security personnel.

On Wednesday, the government again condemned an Arab League decision to impose sanctions. State media say citizens turned out for a mass rally in Homs province in which demonstrators condemned the league's decision.