Nine killed in security crackdown in central Syria

Nine killed in security crackdown in central Syria

Nine people were killed Tuesday when Syrian security forces opened fire on residents preventing them from entering the central city of Hama, dpa reported

More than 40 residents were injured in the restive city, the Local Coordination Committees of Syria (LCC) reported online.

The group alleged that troops and the people with ties to the government were vandalizing cars and looting shops. Water and electricity supplies were reportedly cut off in some neighbourhoods.

Earlier Tuesday, groups of youths used large rocks, vehicles and garbage bins to block the entry points to the city. But they were attacked by security forces, activists reported online.

The government crackdown in Hama came after President Bashar al-Assad dismissed the governor after anti-government demonstrators held a massive rally in the provincial capital on Friday.

More than 1,375 Syrian protesters and 340 security personnel have been killed since the protests began in mid-March, when demonstrators began calling for reforms and an end to al-Assad's 11-year rule.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Tuesday, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, that his country seeks to issue an international resolution to condemn the violence in Syria.

Hague also called on al-Assad to halt violence against opposition activists and start implementing reforms.

Al-Assad said last month that a national dialogue would start soon to review the laws on elections, the creation of new political parties other than the ruling Baath party, and consider changes to the constitution.

On Tuesday, some 80 former independent parliamentarians joined a one-day meeting, part of many other conferences and initiatives currently launched in the country to find a way to end the months-long unrest.

It came five days ahead of a consultative meeting for national dialogue, called for by the government, as a prelude for the comprehensive national conference al-Assad has called.

Meanwhile, an Amman-based human rights group said Tuesday that about 150 Syrians had recently fled to Jordan because of the crackdown.

They were living in Mafraq, 50 kilometres east of the Jordanian capital, the Arab Bridge Centre for Human Rights said.

There has been swift international condemnation of the Syrian crackdown, but al-Assad's government has its supporters.

Thirty seven Jordanian pan-Arab and left-leaning politicians and trade unionists on Tuesday formed a committee to support the Syrian regime against what they called a "Zionist and American conspiracy against Syria."

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