Naharnet

146 Dead in Syria as Rights Group Says Crackdown Killed More Than 10,000

Some 146 deaths were reported on Monday as Syrian forces pressed their crackdown on dissent, pounding rebel bastions mainly in the restive north which also left many hurt, monitors said.

The Local Coordination Committees, the main activist group spurring protests on the ground, reported the 146 deaths, which included 75 bodies that were found at a hospital in the central province of Homs.

The LCC said 43 people were killed in Homs, 14 in Idlib, nine in Hama and five in Aleppo.

"Two civilians and five rebels were killed by gunfire and shrapnel in an offensive launched this morning in the village of Hass," in Idlib province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Troops set ablaze the houses of residents who had fled and arrested dozens of people in the village, it added.

Also in Idlib at least one soldier was killed in fighting with rebels in the village of Khirbet al-Joze, while a woman died by gunfire in Kafruma.

Two other Idlib villages, Deir Subol and Farkia, were also targeted by troops in an operation in which a 16-year-old boy was killed and three other people injured, the Observatory said.

The villages came under heavy gunfire, activist Nureddin Abdo told Agence France Presse, adding forces backed by tanks stormed the town of Al-Maghara, also "raiding houses, burning some of them and arresting youths."

Also on Monday, a civilian was killed in an explosion in the northern city of Aleppo, it said.

In Daraa, cradle of the uprising, forces carried out arrest raids in the town of Dael, where two houses were burnt and a third collapsed, said the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees activist group.

In the same region, army deserters fired rocket-propelled grenades at checkpoints at Inkhel, killing two soldiers, while gunfire was heard in the Tafas village.

Heavy machinegun fire was heard in the Hamidiyeh and Souk al-Hashish neighborhoods of Homs city, one of the main targets of the regime's year-long crackdown, said the LCC. Two civilians were also killed in Homs and three elsewhere in the province of Homs and in Qusayr.

A gun battle was fought between rebel fighters and government forces in the central city's Juret al-Shiyah district, said the Observatory.

In Damascus, a blast ripped through the city center near a hotel and a police station, injuring some people and damaging shops, official Syrian television Al-Ikhbariya and witnesses said.

"A bomb exploded loudly near the Hotel Kinda" in busy Marja neighborhood in the center of the capital, the television said.

"Four people were slightly hurt and shops damaged," it added.

Witnesses said the explosion occurred near a police station in Marja and that the area had been cordoned off by security forces. Ambulances were seen at the site of the blast.

Bombings have hit Syria's major cities in recent months, provoking mounting concern that al-Qaida has taken advantage of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

The latest violence comes a day after Western and Arab nations called for Assad to be given a deadline to meet the terms of a peace plan crafted by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

On Sunday, at least 40 people were killed in firefights across the country, among them 15 members of the security forces, the Observatory said.

Meanwhile, the Observatory said the crackdown in Syria has killed 10,108 people since the uprising erupted last March.

"10,108 people were killed -- 7,306 civilians, 2,248 members of government forces and 554 soldiers who defected from the Syrian army," said the Observatory.

For its part, the United Nations says that more than 9,000 people have died in the crackdown.

Source: Agence France Presse, Naharnet


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