Activist says at least 14 killed in small Syrian town in three days

Activist says at least 14 killed in small Syrian town in three days

A Syrian human rights activist said Tuesday that at least 14 people have been killed in the small western Syrian town of Telkalakh in the last three days of protests, DPA reported.

Residents in Telkalakh, a town of mainly Sunni residents near the Lebanese border, said ambulances were prevented from reaching the injured because of snipers and military blockades, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdul-Rahman told the German Press Agency dpa by telephone from London that 761 people have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March.

Another 126 military and police officers have been killed in violence, according to Abdul-Rahman.

An official source at the Interior Ministry on Tuesday said two security officers were killed in an attack on their vehicle in a village in the western province of Homs. Four others were injured, including an officer, reported the state-run Syrian news agency SANA.

Syrian security forces have been deployed heavily, imposing a siege on many cities in a bid to quell the demonstrations that started against President Bashar al-Assad on March 15.

Protesters are demanding greater freedoms, reforms and the ouster of al-Assad, who took over the top post after his father died in 2000.

Meanwhile, a source quoted in SANA denied on Tuesday that a mass grave had been unearthed in the southern city of Daraa.

He called the report "completely baseless" and an "incitement and fabrication campaign" launched against Syria to undermine its stability.

This comes after at least 20 corpses were discovered in an open grave in the restive southern Syrian city of Daraa, pro-democracy activists said Monday.

An online video and still images showed several male corpses hastily dumped, barely a metre below the soil, with missing body parts.

The video also showed officials wearing protective body suits and equipped with oxygen tanks removing the corpses. The army surrounded the area and dispersed residents, activists wrote online.

The Syrian president met on Monday for just over two hours with a delegation of 16 people from the province of Daraa, where the military has been deployed for weeks and where activists say some of the bloodiest attacks have taken place.

Daraa's representatives and al-Assad discussed "undergoing reforms in the governorate", according to SANA.

Abdul-Hamid Taha, a member of the delegation, said in a statement to SANA that the delegation asked al-Assad to continue the army's "hunting operations of armed groups" until Daraa returns to calm.

The province of Daraa was one of the country's first protest hubs. Residents there have complained of a heavy security crackdown, water and power cuts and the arrest of hundreds of activists in recent weeks.

The Syrian government has blamed armed gangs and terrorists for much of the unrest.

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