Syria`s government has shown off TV and still images of burned buildings and rubble-strewn streets empty of people in Hama.
Also on Friday, the US State Department urged Americans
to leave the country immediately Syrian government forces
began their ferocious assault on Hama on Sunday, cutting off
electricity, phone services and Internet and blocking supplies
into the city of 800,000 as they shelled neighborhoods and
sent in tanks and ground raids.
It appeared to be an all-out attempt to take back the
city which has a history of dissent after residents all but
took it over since June, barricading it against the regime.
Rights group say at least 100 people have been killed, while
some estimates put the number as high as 250.
The tolls could not be verified because of the difficulty
reaching residents and hospital officials in the city, where
journalists are barred as they are throughout Syria.
Tanks shelled residential districts of Hama starting
around 4 am Friday, just as people were beginning their daily
fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan mirroring a
bombardment the evening before at sunset, when people were
breaking the fast, one resident told a news agency.
"If people get wounded, it is almost impossible to take
them to hospital," the resident said by telephone, speaking on
condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.
Syrian state media on Friday proclaimed army units were
"working to restore security, stability and normal life to
Hama," which it said had been taken over by "terrorists." The
message mirrored the regime`s claim that armed extremists
seeking to destabilize the country are behind the unrest, as
opposed to true reform-seekers.
For the first time since the siege began, government-run
TV and the state news agency aired images of the ravaged
streets of Hama, strewn with debris, damaged vehicles and
makeshift barricades. In one, a yellow taxi was shown with a
dead man in the driver`s seat and bloodstains on the door. A
tank cleared away a large cement barrier and a bus with