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Sunday, August 7, 2011

SYRIAN RESISTANCE: Syria Forces Extend Siege on Hama as Toll Rises!

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By NADA BAKRI, / Published: August 6, 2011.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian security forces tightened their siege on the restive city of Hama on Saturday, and human rights activists said that at least 24 people had been killed on Friday during demonstrations against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hama has been under heavy assault for a week. Mr. Assad ordered his troops, backed by hundreds of tanks, to roll into the city last Sunday in an attempt to crush an uprising there that he feared could gain momentum and embolden an opposition movement that has sought the downfall of his government since mid-March.

The military operation was mounted amid growing regional and international condemnation. Joining a chorus of countries criticizing the crackdown on democracy advocates, oil-rich Arab states called Saturday for Syria to bring an “immediate end to violence.”

In a statement, the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — urged Syrian leaders to “resort to wisdom and introducing serious and necessary reforms that would protect the rights and dignity of the people, and meet their aspirations.”

The statement followed promises by the United States and European countries to consider new sanctions against Syria.

Human rights activists say that at least 200 people have been killed in Hama since last Sunday, when tanks started shelling neighborhoods. Telephone lines, water and electricity have also been cut off for the past week, and no bakeries have opened in that time. Some residents reported shortages of food, an activist said several days ago, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis that could be severe.

Activists also said that the death toll could be much higher, but that a comprehensive and accurate count was almost impossible, given the state of communications in the city, the siege and the difficulty of moving around.

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