#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 13°C Wednesday 4 August 2021
Advertisement

Syrian troops fire on fleeing residents in city of Latakia, say activists

Nearly 30 people have been killed in the city since Saturday, with government troops firing on scores of people – many of them women and children – say activists.

In this citizen journalism image, Syrian troops withdraw from the Damascus suburb of Saqba, Syria, on Sunday Aug. 14, 2011
In this citizen journalism image, Syrian troops withdraw from the Damascus suburb of Saqba, Syria, on Sunday Aug. 14, 2011
Image: AP Photo

SYRIAN TROOPS FIRED on fleeing residents, killing at least one person early Monday in the port city of Latakia where military operations to root out protests against President Bashar Assad’s autocratic regime were in the third day, witnesses and activists said.

Separately, activists and rights groups said troops backed by tanks entered the village of Houla, in the flashpoint central city of Homs. They said the military was carrying out raids and arrests there.

The military assault in Latakia has killed nearly 30 people since Saturday, and possibly more after gunboats on Sunday joined ground troops for the first time to crush the 5-month-old uprising against Assad.

The London-based Observatory for Human Rights said troops opened fire Monday as a group of fleeing residents approached a checkpoint in the Ein Tamra district of Latakia. One person was shot dead and five were wounded.

A Latakia resident confirmed the account, saying troops fired as scores of people, many of them women and children, were fleeing. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist group that helps organize protests in Syria, also confirmed troops fired at fleeing families. It said random gunfire was being heard Monday in addition to a campaign of raids and house-to-house arrests.

It also reported heavy gunfire and explosions in Latakia’s Quneines neighborhood.

The regime has banned foreign media and restricted local coverage, making it difficult to verify accounts on the ground.

The coordinated attacks in Latakia were the latest wave of a brutal offensive against anti-government protests launched at the beginning of the month and marked a new escalation in the regime’s crackdown.

As the gunships blasted waterfront districts Sunday, ground troops and security forces backed by tanks and armored vehicles stormed several neighborhoods, sending terrified women and children fleeing, some on foot, to safer areas.

The assault showed Assad has no intention of scaling back the campaign even though it has brought international outrage and new U.S. and European sanctions.

A Syrian military official on Monday denied as “absolutely baseless” reports that gunboats had fired on Latakia. The official, whose comments were carried by state-run news agency SANA, said the gunboats were patrolling the coast “on a routine mission to prevent weapons smuggling into the country.”

On Sunday, SANA said troops were pursuing “gunmen using machine guns, hand grenades and bombs who have been terrorizing residents in al-Ramel district.”

The regime blames the unrest on a foreign conspiracy and often issues reports on its state-run media that contradict widespread witness accounts and video footage provided by witnesses.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

The security forces appear to be intent on crushing dissent in Latakia, which has seen large anti-Assad protests since the Syrian uprising began in mid-March. On Friday, as many as 10,000 marched there, calling for the president’s ouster.

The brutality fueled international outrage with Syria, a hardline Arab state closely allied with Iran, and led to new sanctions against the regime by the U.S., Canada and Europe.

Also Monday, Assad sacked the governor for the key northwestern province of Aleppo, Ali Mansour, and replaced him with Mowaffak Khallouf, SANA said.

No reason was given for the sacking. But while the opposition has yet to bring out the middle and upper middle classes in Damascus and Aleppo, the two economic powerhouses, protests have been building in Aleppo. Four people were killed there Friday as security forces attacked protesters.

- AP

About the author:

Mary

Read next:

COMMENTS (1)