Published On: Mon, Aug 1st, 2011

Tanks roll across Syria, over 100 killed as al-Assad attempts to squash protests

Up to 140 Syrians were killed yesterday when the country’s government waged ‘full armed warfare’ on its own people to crush demonstrations.

President Bashar al-Assad’s tanks battered the city of Hama, where protests have raged for several months against his rule.

Forces began their brutal co-ordinated assault on Hama at dawn, having besieged it for the past four weeks.


Utilities were cut off and main exit routes were closed before the troops moved in.

Reports said tanks and snipers were firing in unarmed residential districts where inhabitants put up makeshift roadblocks to stop them.

The government troops then encountered armed resistance from rebel militias.

Estimates of the death toll, which were impossible to verify, ranged from around 75 people to nearly 140 on a day when the attacks began before dawn.

Medical staff said hospitals were overrun by the wounded, suggesting the death toll could rise sharply, witnesses said. Bodies lay uncollected in the streets last night after the tanks pulled out, having failed to take control of the city centre.

The shelling prompted condemnation around the world.

US President Barack Obama called the reports “horrifying” and said Assad was “completely incapable and unwilling” to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people.

Foreign Secretary William Hague said: ‘President Bashar is mistaken if he believes that oppression and military force will end the crisis in his country. He should stop this assault now.’

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini appealed to the Syrian government “to immediately cease the violence against civilians,” calling it “a horrible act of violent repression against protesters who have been demonstrating for days in a peaceful manner.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the violence and reminded Syrian authorities that “they are accountable under international human rights law for all acts of violence perpetrated by them against the civilian population.”



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