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Middle East
Syrian forces 'shell Latakia' for third day
Activists say 29 killed since operation began, while troops and tanks reportedly move into towns in Homs province.
Last Modified: 15 Aug 2011 09:46

Syrian tanks have reportedly shelled a residential district in Latakia as the assault on the port city continued for a third day, according to residents.

At least one person was killed in Monday's attacks, according to activists, bringing the total killed to 29 since security forces moved into areas of the city on Saturday.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Ramtha on the Syria-Jordan border, said additional military reinforcement has reportedly been deployed around the al-Ramel neighbourhood on Monday.

"We understand from the local co-ordinating committee that at around 6am local time some women and children in the al-Ramel neighbourhood were trying to flee to nearby al-Tamra," she said.

"Syrian forces verbally allowed them to pass through, but then opened fire on the families. One man was killed and several women and children were injured.

Women and children are still trying to flee besieged neighbourhoods, but men are refraining from doing so because many of them are wanted, she said.

"We also understand additional military reinforcements have been deployed around the al-Ramel neighbourhood, which is forcing many residents to try to flee."

Syrian troops backed by tanks also entered several towns in the central province of Homs, a flashpoint of pro-democracy demonstrations.

"The community of Hula is under siege ... The army is carrying out raids and arrests under the cover of heavy gunfire," the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Al Jazeera is unable to independently verify details because of restrictions on reporting in Syria.

Navy shells city

The continued assualt on Latakia comes a day after Syrian warships and tanks opened fire on al-Ramel, according to reports.

A resident said at least three gunboats had taken part in Sunday's offensive, the first time the navy has been deployed in President Bashar al-Assad's months-long crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

"Many homes have been destroyed and the shabiha have broken into shops and businesses," he said, referring to pro-government gangs.

Victims of the attack included two Palestinian men from a refugee camp in al-Ramel, according to the National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS).

A spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNRWA, Chris Gunness, said reports from the camp described "fire from tanks which have encircled the area as well as fire from ships at sea".

Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said one of the dead was a two-year-old girl who was in a car with her father when security forces at a checkpoint opened fire.

Elsewhere on Sunday, NOHRS said two people had been killed in Homs, one in Hama and one in Idlib.

Around the capital, Damascus, "security forces entered Saqba and Hamriya in great numbers and launched a campaign of arrests," according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The government has justified its crackdown by saying it is dealing with terrorist gangs and criminals who are fomenting unrest.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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