Latakia death toll rises to 21 as army presses offensive
At least 21 people were killed Sunday when the Syrian army shelled the port of Latakia for the second day in a row as the government intensified deadly clampdowns on protesters, opposition activists said, dpa reported.
The navy for the first time joined in quelling flashpoint areas by shelling Latakia's southern district of al-Ramleh, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that it was unable to verify the number of casualties.
Snipers were firing from the tops of buildings in al-Ramleh and armoured vehicles had encircled the district, the observatory said.
Activists quoted by the broadcaster Al Arabiya said they had heard large explosions in Latakia's adjacent neighbourhoods of al-Ramleh and Masbah al-Shaab on Sunday.
Al-Ramleh has been the scene of protests against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since March.
Local Coordination Committees of Syria, an opposition monitoring group, said the rail service to and from Latakia had stopped on Sunday.
The broadcaster Al-Jazeera, meanwhile, reported that security forces were firing on the Latakia neighbourhoods of al-Saliba and al-Qalaa, leaving an unspecified number of casualties.
Activists said that military and security forces had stormed on Sunday the suburban districts of Saqba and Hamouria in the capital Damascus and made mass arrests.
Mourners in Darayya near Damascus were shot at and besieged in a cemetery, Al-Arabiya TV reported quoting an activist.
In a separate incident, a boy was killed in the central city of Hama when security forces fired on a mosque, according to the Federation of the Coordination Committees of the Syrian Revolution.
At least 11 civilians were killed Saturday in a series of army actions in Latakia, Hama and the central region of Homs, activists said.
Footage posted on the internet showed what activists described as overnight anti-government protests in several areas including Damascus, the north-eastern city of Deir al-Zour and Daraa in the south.
At least 1,785 civilians and 410 security personnel have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in Syria in mid-March, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
It is hard to verify these reports, as the Syrian authorities have barred most foreign media and international human rights groups from the country.