Syria protests in Hama - Reuters - July 31, 2011
A man on a stretcher is carried to Al Badra Hospital in Hama, Syria in this still image taken from video July 31, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Reuters
People duck to avoid gunfire in Kazou neighbourhood in Hama in this still image taken from video July 31, 2011. Photo by Reuters

At least 100 people were said to have been killed Sunday when the Syrian regime launched a fresh crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hama. The flashpoint central city was the target of an earlier brutal crackdown in the 1980s, at the hands of the father of the current Syrian leader, Bashar Assad.

"Hama is used to massacres by the Assad family, but we tell this tyrant the more you kill us the more we are determined to oust you," the activist, who requested anonymity, told DPA by phone.

In 1982, a government crackdown caused the deaths of up to 20,000 people in the city, when the town's Sunni population attempted to revolt against then president Hafez Assad's minority Alawite sect.

On Sunday, tanks stormed the city at dawn, shelling different neighborhoods. Electricity and water supplies to the main areas were cut before the attack began, said Omar Idlibi, a Syrian activist based in Lebanon.

Troops surrounded one of the major hospitals to prevent the wounded from reaching it. Over 100 people were injured in the attacks.

Activists also said that four buses filled with security forces personnel arrived at the Southern entrance of Hama, located around 200 kilometers north of Damascus.

Activists believe that Sunday's attacks are decisive in their battle against the regime.
"The harsh crackdown is a means of telling protesters even if Ramadan starts we will keep killing you if you go out to the streets," Idlibi said. "But we tell them we will continue and won't stop no matter what means you use on us."

Activists wrote on the Syria Revolution page online that "if this campaign fails to achieve its goal, it will mark the beginning of the end for the regime."

On Friday, protesters vowed that pro-democracy protests would be held every night in the fasting month of Ramadan and continue until dawn.

Local human rights advocates say that more than 1,500 civilians have been killed since protests calling for the ouster of President Bashar Assad began in mid-March. Over 350 security personnel have also been killed.

In the southern Harak town, in Daraa province, several including a three-year-old girl were killed after security forces stormed the town.

Tanks have surrounded Harak and black smoke was covering the city and no one can reach the town as all roads are blocked, an activist in the provincial capital Daraa said.
"I just want to address the Arab world and tell them their silence is killing the Syrian people, this regime has no mercy," the activist said.

In the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, at least six people were killed when tanks stormed al-Joura district early Sunday, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group said. Some 50 people were injured.

Syrian troops were also advancing elsewhere in the country, as tanks entered the Damascus suburb of Moadamiyya, where over 200 people have been arrested in recent days, regional media reported.

Meanwhile State-run agency SANA praised the Syrian Arab army on the occasion of the August 1 national day, saying it "represents an honorable and brilliant image of the military institution ... through its valor in providing security and stability for all citizens."

It continued the government line of blaming terrorist groups for the unrest, saying the army was confronting "criminal acts of armed terrorist groups who terrified the people, killed innocents and sabotaged private and public property.