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Middle East
Town shelled as Syrians flee to Lebanon
At least seven killed as thousands of civilians flee into neighbouring Lebanon to escape the security crackdown.
Last Modified: 15 May 2011 15:45

Security forces have killed seven people in the western Syrian town of Talkalakh as Syria's unrest enters a third month and spills over the country's border into Lebanon.

"At least seven people, including two women, were killed by security forces who are indiscriminately shelling four districts in the town," of Talkalakh, a rights activist told AFP news agency by phone, quoting witnesses.

Crackling gunfire and explosions echoed in this border town, as thousands of frightened civilians poured into neighbouring Lebanon to escape the harsh crackdown against anti-government protests, witnesses said.

Syrian troops arrived in the town, just 5km from the Lebanese town of Wadi Khaled, on Saturday - a day after a protest there against the government of president Bashar al-Assad.

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Meanwhile, Israeli forces shot dead four Syrians who were taking part in a pro-Palestinian protest on the Syrian side of the border with the occupied Golan Heights, Syrian state TV reported.

The protest was to commemorate the "Nakba", a day Palestinians call the "catastrophe" - the anniversary of Israel's creation. 

As many as 300 people from the Syrian village of Majdal Shams overwhelmed border patrols and breached part of the frontier, an eyewitness told Al Jazeera.

Protest hub

Back on the Lebanon-Syria border, dozens of families have attempted to escape Talkalakh over the past two days, Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr reported from Beirut.

"There [has] been unrest there, it's one of the protest hubs," she said. "Some say up to 2,000 [have fled] in the past 48 hours."

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr says residents of Syria are leaving for northern Lebanon

An eyewitness on the border told Al Jazeera that at least 19 people had been wounded when the military swooped into Talkalakh on Saturday.

The violence came after more than 8,000 people attended a funeral in the provincial capital of Homs for one of three protesters killed on Friday by Syrian security forces.

Mourners for Fouad al-Rajoub gathered near Bab al-Dreib and began making their way through the city, chanting for an end to the siege on Homs, Baniyas and Deraa, the major flashpoints in the country's uprising.

An eyewitness in the city said that, due to the size of the procession, the military had removed and relocated some of the checkpoints it had established throughout the city since mass anti-regime protests erupted there last month.

Syrian army personnel were deployed in Talkalakh after officials said troops and tanks were pulled out of Baniyas and Deraa.

Security barriers were set up at the entrances of the town and heavy gunfire was heard, according to activists. Security forces were deployed in surrounding villages as well.

Lebanese security officials said cracks of gunfire could be heard on the Lebanese side of the border.

Two months of violent upheaval in Syria have left at least 775 people dead.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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