Rights Activists Say Syrian Forces Kill 5 in Hama

Posted December 14th, 2011 at 6:00 am (UTC-5)
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Rights activists say Syrian security forces have opened fire on a car in the restive central province of Hama, killing five people.

The activists said the shootings happened Wednesday near the town of Khattab, a day after a surge in deadly violence in Syria.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says loyalist forces killed at least 24 people Tuesday, most in Idlib province, where an army raid killed 11 civilians.

The observatory says Syrian army defectors later killed seven government security force members while ambushing a patrol.

Up to eight more civilians were killed Tuesday in a separate incident in Idlib when Syrian troops fired on crowds attending funeral processions for those killed earlier.

The United Nations human rights office says it has received credible reports from a variety of sources showing the Syrian death toll at more than 5,000 since March, when the unrest first began. Syria's U.N. ambassador has rejected the figure as “incredible.”

Syria's 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.

A general strike continued for a third day Tuesday in several regions across Syria as activists push for an end to President Bashar al-Assad's rule through a campaign of civil disobedience.