Unrest Erupts Near Syrian-Lebanese Border

Posted December 2nd, 2011 at 9:25 am (UTC-5)
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Witnesses and activists say there is heavy shelling in villages near Syria's border with Lebanon.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA Friday that security forces opened fire on villagers who were trying to flee into Lebanon after forces launched raids in the region.

The London-based group also says unidentified gunmen opened fire on anti-government protesters in several towns Friday, killing at least eight people.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government says large pro-government rallies took place in Damascus and several other cities.

Earlier , the top United Nations human-rights official raised new concerns about Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on dissent.

Navi Pillay told a meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva the Syrian government's ruthless behavior has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of children. She called for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

Pillay also called on the international community to “take urgent and effective measures” to protect the Syrian people.

In another development, France announced it has increased security for Syrian opposition group members who live or work in France.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant told reporters Friday the new measures are in place for members of the opposition Syrian National Council, because “the Syrian state is violent and does not hesitate to resort to threats.”

The U.N. human rights commissioner said Thursday that Syria's crackdown on anti-government protesters has degenerated into civil war, and that the total number of Syrians killed in the unrest now exceeds 4,000.

Syria contends its actions are not a crackdown on protests, but a necessary response to attacks by “armed terrorists” on civilians and security personnel.