Eight Killed in Syria Crackdown, Activists Say

Syrian troops storm Zafarana area of Homs, using rocket-propelled grenades and tanks.

Eight people were killed after Syrian troops attacked several cities Saturday, in the latest government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

Troops stormed the Zafarana area of the central city of Homs, using rocket-propelled grenades and tanks. Mahmoud Ayoub, a teacher, and six members of his family died when their house was attacked.

AP / DPN (Deir el-Zour Press news)

Helicopters hovered over Homs, which has been a focal point for the protests against the government of President Bashar Assad since March, said the Federation of the Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution, a group of grassroots activists.

Security forces opened fire indiscriminately in the district of al-Khalidya in Homs, the group said.

In the coastal city of Latakia, a 27-year-old died of injuries suffered a few days back, activists said. Security forces imposed a curfew in the al-Raml area of the city.

Several funerals of people killed on Friday turned into demonstrations, defying the heavy security deployment, in the Damascus suburbs of Rhaiba and Harasta as well as the central city of Hama.

At least 40 people were killed by security forces across the country on Friday, when thousands took to the streets demanding the ouster of Assad.

Meanwhile, armored vehicles were laying siege to the village of Mohassan in Deir el-Zour in northeastern Syria, according to activists.

They said that the authorities had executed 12 soldiers for refusing to fire on protesters.

Meanwhile, five shells fired by the army Saturday hit the border area between Syria and Turkey, reported broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The report quoted a witness as saying that one shell had fallen near Turkish border guards. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

At least 1,860 civilians and 422 security personnel have been killed since the pro-democracy protests began in Syria in mid-March, according to human rights advocates.

It is hard to verify these reports, as the Syrian authorities have barred most foreign media and international human rights from the country.