Syrian forces kill two, aim to retake Hama

4 Min Read

DAMASCUS: Syrian security forces killed two anti-regime protesters near Damascus and deployed tanks in a town near Turkey’s border, activists said on Monday, as the authorities eyed the recapture of Hama.

"Two demonstrators were killed and eight wounded on Sunday night as security forces opened fire to disperse a protest in Hajar Aswad," a community in Damascus province, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Activists said another eight people were wounded early on Monday in an army operation in Idlib province, northwest Syria.

"At dawn, the army raided the village of Hass and has reached the outskirts of Kfar Nubl. It has taken control of nearby Kafr Roma and soldiers have deployed between Hass and Kfar Nubl," said one activist, contacted by telephone.

They said tanks rolled into Maaret Al-Numan, also near the Turkish border in the northwest, after the town came under heavy shelling.

Elsewhere, more than 20 people were arrested on the outskirts of the flashpoint central city of Hama, the Observatory said, adding that angry residents countered by burning tyres and hurling stones.

It said gunshots were heard from the west of the city.

As many as 300 people were detained, another activist told AFP on condition of anonymity. "It seems the regime has been advised by certain quarters to go for a military solution in Hama after Friday’s huge demonstration."

Syria’s embattled President Bashar Al-Assad sacked the governor of Hama province on Saturday, a day after a crowd of an estimated half million people rallied against his regime in the city of 800,000 residents.

Abdel Rahman said the tanks which had been posted in east and northeast Hama after the demonstration were pulled back on Sunday afternoon, despite the campaign of arrests outside the centre.

Since security forces gunned down 48 protesters in the city on June 3, Hama has escaped the clutches of the regime, according to activists. The next day, more than 100,000 mourners were reported to have taken part in their funerals.

On Monday, videos posted online showed security agents driving round the city’s empty streets. Residents were staging a civil disobedience campaign, said pro-democracy activists on their Facebook site, Syrian Revolution 2011.

Hama was the scene of a 1982 bloodbath in which an estimated 20,000 people were killed when the army put down an Islamist revolt against the rule of the president’s predecessor and late father, Hafez Al-Assad.

Security forces on Monday also carried out arrests in Nassib, a village in Daraa province where the revolt erupted on March 15. "Fourteen people were arrested in the southern village on the border with Jordan," said an activist.

Rights groups say that more than 1,300 civilians have been killed and 10,000 people arrested by security forces since mid-March.

On the refugee front, the number of Syrians who have fled the army’s advance in northwest Syria to take shelter across the border in Turkey has dropped to below 10,000, as hundreds more returned home, Turkish officials said on Monday.

Some 405 Syrians went back to their country on Sunday and Monday, lowering the total number of refugees in Turkey to 9,909, Turkey’s disaster and emergency management agency said.

The number of refugees fleeing the bloody crackdown and entering Turkey peaked at 11,739 at the end of June, when Syrian troops stormed border villages where many displaced people had massed.

Share This Article
Leave a comment