Syrian crackdown kills 21 protesters

Syrian crackdown kills 21 protesters

Forces swoop on border town, unrest sends thousands fleeing into Turkey

The Local Coordination Committees, a group that documents anti-government protests in Syria, says 10 of the deaths occurred on Friday in the northwestern province of Idlib.
The group says many of the casualties occurred when Syrian tanks shelled Maaret al-Numan, a town in Idlib.

Syria’s state-run television says gunmen opened fire on police stations in Maaret al-Numan, causing casualties among security officials.

The widening military crackdown on popular unrest has sent thousands of civilians fleeing into Turkey this week.

The Syrian army swept into a northwest border town where clashes raged earlier this week and begun to arrest “armed” opponents, state television said, while tens of thousands of people marched anew around Syria despite President Bashar al-Assad’s increasing resort to armed repression.

“Long live Syria, down with Bashar al-Assad!” protesters shouted in many of the rallies staged after Friday prayers across the country of 20 million.

Security forces shot dead at least two demonstrators taking part in a rally in the Qaboun district of the capital Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Some troops fired from rooftops at marchers, activists said.

Residents said government forces also killed two protesters in the village of Busra al-Harir in the southern Hauran plain and also fired on thousands defying a heavy security presence in the southern city of Deraa, fount of the three-month-old revolt that seeks the removal of authoritarian President Assad.

“There was a demonstration of 1,000 people when security police fired from their cars,” a Busra al-Harir resident said.

A fifth protester was shot dead in the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syria has barred most independent media from the country, making it difficult to verify accounts of the bloodshed.

Witnesses said that some of the protesters shot by security forces in Deraa — including two who were hit in the head and chest — were hurriedly carried by youths to a nearby makeshift clinic.

Some 2,800 Syrian civilians have fled cross the northwest border into Turkey.

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