Syrian troops storm restive town

Syrian troops storm restive town

The offencive in Rastan, located just north of the central city of Homs and on the highway to Turkey, began overnight and continued through the morning, leaving at least 20 people wounded, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Rastan has emerged as a hotbed of dissent against Assad's autocratic regime during six months of anti-government protests, and alleged army deserters have frequently clashed there with the military and security forces in the past.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network, the Observatory, and other groups reported yesterday's attacks in Rastan. They said the tanks and armoured vehicles entered Rastan early yesterday and dozens of troops have deployed on the town's streets.

The United Nations estimates that more than 2,700 civilians have been killed in the government's crackdown on the uprising that began in mid-March, inspired by the Arab revolutions that have toppled autocratic rulers in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

The Syrian government's bloody crackdown has prompted the international community, including the United States and European nations, to impose stiff sanctions on the regime.

Assad insists the unrest is being driven by terrorists and Islamic extremists acting out a foreign conspiracy to fracture Syria.