Syrian troops take over north-western town

Last Updated: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 18:09

Beirut: Syrian troops backed by tanks and
helicopter gunships swept into another north-western city early
on Friday, just days after laying siege to it, activists said. Big
demonstrations were expected nationwide as the Syrian people
pressed on with the uprising to oust President Bashar Assad.

Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso said large
numbers of soldiers entered Maaret al-Numan. It was not
immediately clear whether there were any casualties in the
operation.

Many of the residents of Maaret al-Numan, a town of
100,000 on the highway linking Damascus with Syria`s largest
city, Aleppo, have fled after Syrian forces swept through the
northwestern province of Idlib last week near the Turkish
border.

Omar Idilbi of the Local Coordination Committees, a
group that documents anti-government protests, said troops are
in full control of the town.

Since anti-government protests erupted in mid-March,
inspired by democratic revolutions in autocrat-ruled Tunisia
and Egypt, Assad has unleashed the military in region after
region to crush street demonstrations. Human rights activists
say more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed and 10,000 have
been detained.

The operation in Maaret al-Numan coincided with
opposition calls for protests today throughout the country
naming it "The Day of Saleh al-Ali." Al-Ali was an Alawite
leader who led an uprising against French colonial rule in the
20th century.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 18:09

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