More Than 100 Dead in Syria Ahead of Deadline: NGO
More than 100 people were reported killed across Syria on Saturday, 74 of them civilians, as regime forces pressed a protest crackdown three days ahead of a deadline to cease fire and pull back.
Monitors reported the escalation in violence despite UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s latest rebuke to Damascus for stepping up its assault on dissent hubs ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
At least 40 civilians died “in bombardment and shooting on the town of Latamna,” in Hama province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Britain-based monitoring group said civilians were killed as well in Tibet al-Imam, also in Hama, and another 16 in the neighbouring province of Homs, where Rastan town was bombed, in Idlib to the northwest, and Aleppo in north Syria.
In escalating clashes, 16 rebels and 17 members of the security forces were also killed nationwide, it said, adding 13 bodies were found in Deir Balaa district of Homs and 10 extracted from rubble in Hreitan, Aleppo province.
The Observatory said the deaths came after President Bashar al-Assad’s forces launched an overnight assault on Latamna and clashed with members of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has warned of “alarming” casualties as the Syrian government’s year-long crackdown on dissent — which the United Nations says has killed more than 9,000 people — showed no signs of abating.
Monitors put the number of dead at more than 10,000.
At least 77 people were killed nationwide on Thursday and 35 on Friday, mostly civilians, according to Observatory figures.
On Saturday, rebels attacked a military intelligence headquarters in the second city of Aleppo, the Observatory said, and army deserters also pressed a dawn assault on Ming air base in the same province.
Fighting was also reported between troops and deserters in districts of Hama city.
“Regular forces launched an assault early on Saturday on the Al-Qussur district, where they burned down the house of an activist,” said an activist on the ground, Abu Ghazi al-Hamwi.
The Local Coordination Committees group, which organises protests at a local level, on Saturday posted online videos of tanks and armoured cars deploying in Douma, just north of the capital.
Thousands of people demonstrated in Damascus on Saturday in support of the ruling Baath party on the 65th anniversary of its creation, an AFP journalist said.