Rights Activists Say Syrian Forces Kill 11 in Northwest

Posted December 13th, 2011 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Syrian rights activists say government security forces have killed 11 people and wounded dozens of others in northwestern Syria, while the United Nations says the death toll from months of unrest has topped 5,000.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday the most recent killings happened in Idlib province, a restive area that borders Turkey.

U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Monday her office has received credible reports from a variety of sources that indicate the death toll since the unrest began in March “probably exceeds 5,000.” She released the statement shortly after a meeting with U.N. Security Council representatives in New York, where she said the violence should be examined by the International Criminal Court.

Pillay also warned that sources fear a major assault on the flashpoint city of Homs may be imminent.

Meanwhile, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said Tuesday that border troops had clashed with a group of 15 “terrorists” trying to get into the country from Turkey, killing two of them.

Fierce clashes between Syrian security forces and army defectors continued in several parts of the country Monday, as Syrians voted in municipal elections. The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said seven people were killed in Idlib and Homs.

Witnesses say turnout for the election was low, and the opposition does not consider the vote a legitimate concession by President Bashar al-Assad's government. The government has promised a series of political reforms to appease demonstrators, while Mr. Assad has faced mounting international pressure to end a crackdown on dissent.

The uprising has turned increasingly violent in recent months, with defecting soldiers fighting back against the army and once-peaceful protesters taking up arms to protect themselves.

Also Monday, a general strike continued for a second day in several regions across Syria as activists push for an end to Mr. Assad's rule through a campaign of civil disobedience.

The opposition Local Coordination Committee has urged citizens to gradually escalate the protests by holding sit-ins, closing facilities and refusing to work in the public sector.