Syrian forces kill 3, tanks enter coastal city

Last Updated: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 00:52

Damascus: Armoured vehicles entered the port
city of Latakia and a village near Lebanon on Saturday, activists
said, causing residents to flee as the West seeks ways to
pressure Damascus to end the violence.

"Military vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel
carriers converged on the southern district of Al-Ramleh" in
Latakia, a statement by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights said.

"At 10:30 am heavy gunfire could be heard" in Al-Ramleh,
which was at the heart of a "large demonstration calling for
the fall of (President Bashar al-) Assad`s regime."

The Observatory said the arrival of troops sparked the
exodus of a large number of residents, especially women and
children.

It also reported a "wave of arrests" in Latakia on
Thursday.

An activist in the central region of Homs said troops
backed by two tanks entered the village of Jussiyeh which
borders Lebanon, triggering a stampede across the frontier and
to neighbouring areas.

Military vehicles, meanwhile, swooped on the town of
Qusayr, also in Homs province, where security and intelligence
services launched an arrest campaign.

"No one was spared. Not even women or children," said
the Observatory.

Security forces backed by tanks have been crushing
dissent city by city and town by town since pro-democracy
protests erupted in mid-March.

The Observatory says 2,150 people have been confirmed
dead since then -- 1,744 civilians and 406 members of the
security forces.

Activists said at least 16 people were killed on
Friday when security forces opened fire on thousands of
anti-regime protesters rallied in flashpoint cities after the
Ramadan weekly prayers.

State television said "two security agents were shot
dead by armed men in Douma," a suburb of the capital.

The UN Security Council is to hold a special meeting
next Thursday to discuss human rights and the humanitarian
emergency in Syria, diplomats at the United Nations said.

In a Twitter statement, France`s UN mission said UN
Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay and UN under secretary
for humanitarian affairs Valerie Amos, will brief the meeting.

As the West grapples with ways to pressure Damascus
into ending the bloodshed, US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton urged countries to stop trading with Syria.

"We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and
gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons... to get on
the right side of history," Clinton told reporters.

In an interview with CBS News, she suggested that
China and India impose energy sanctions on Syria, and urged
Russia to stop selling arms to Damascus.

She also urged the Europeans to impose energy
sanctions.

"President Assad has lost the legitimacy to lead and
it is clear that Syria would be better off without him,"
Clinton told a news conference with Norwegian Foreign Minister
Jonas Gahr Stoere.

But she stopped short of explicitly urging Assad to
step down -- a call which US officials have said President
Barack Obama`s administration has decided to make, although it
has not finalised the timing.

PTI




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