Opposition say 27 killed in Syrian village of Tal Kalakh

Arab World Materials 18 May 2011 20:53 (UTC +04:00)
The Syrian opposition said on Wednesday
Opposition say 27 killed in Syrian village of Tal Kalakh

The Syrian opposition said on Wednesday that 27 people had been killed in recent days in the village of Tal Kalakh near the border with Lebanon, dpa reported

International rights group Avaaz said it had received the names of the 27 people killed to verify activists' claims.

"The bodies of other protesters have been taken from the streets by the security forces and transported to the national hospital which has been blocked off from access by the army, the secret service and regime-armed thugs," said Avaaz.

The latest death toll from the village, which lies near the Lebanese border, comes on the same day that the Syrian daily al-Watan said that more than 400 gunmen had fled the coastal region of Banias to Tal Kalakh.

An online video showed the streets of Banias empty of people with stores closed amid a continuing military siege of the city.

"The army sealed off the village of Tal Kalakh and ended the "mutiny," al-Watan reported.

A source quoted in the state-run news agency SANA said army units arrested a large number of gunmen in the western village of Tal Kalkah and in the southern province of Daraa.

The military operations caused casualties among the gunmen, according to the source.

SANA quoted an Interior Ministry source who said that eight soldiers were killed and five injured on Tuesday in clashes with "armed terrorist groups" in Daraa province and Tal Kalakh in Homs province.

The Lebanese daily Assafir reported that one of the military officers killed was the head of Syria's Intelligence unit in the province of Homs, Brigadier Mohamed Ali Abdullah.

European Union sanctions on Syrian officials are set to be extended for President Bashar al-Assad and nine of his associates, provided that a diplomat-level deal is confirmed by the bloc's foreign ministers next week, sources said Wednesday.

The EU has already imposed an asset freeze and a travel ban on 13 Syrian officials, including Assad's brother Maher al-Assad, commander of the 4th Army Brigade, linked to some of the most deadly crackdowns on protesters.

Protesters, who began demonstrating in mid-March, are calling for greater freedoms, reforms and the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say more than 775 people have been killed.

Schools and business operated normally in the capital Damascus on Wednesday, with most ignoring a nationwide general strike called by the Syrian opposition.

According to a Syrian activist speaking to the German Press Agency dpa by telephone from Damascus, people in the capital were afraid to join the strike for fear they would be arrested.

"The harsh crackdown by the regime on those sympathizing with the Syrian opposition has prevented people in Damascus from showing openly showing their discontent," the activist, who requested anonymity, told dpa.

"People are afraid now. They have families and children to feed. If they close shops they will lose their business or go to jail," he added.

The Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, which has been instrumental in organizing protests, had called for the strike to put pressure on the Syrian government.

According to witnesses contributing to the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook page, over 1,000 students were arrested by security forces this week at the University of Aleppo in Syria's second-largest city.

Another 350 protesters were injured when security moved to disperse the student demonstration, according to witnesses.