Damascus, Aug 7 : Syrian forces backed by tanks killed more than 50 people today, activists said, as President Bashar al-Assad defended the state's duty to crack down on “outlaws.”
The new bloodshed came as Pope Benedict XVI and the Arab League added their voices to mounting international condemnation of Syria's brutal crushing of nearly five months of pro-democracy protests.
Activists said security forces backed by tanks killed 42 civilians in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor and at least 10 more in the central town of Hula.
“Forty-two civilians have been killed and more than 100 wounded in Deir Ezzor by gunfire from the armed forces and security agents,” Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights head Abdel Karim Rihawi told AFP.
Rihawi said that 28 people were killed in Al-Jura neighbourhood of Deir Ezzor while 14 died in Huweika district, adding that “thousands of people have fled the city heading further north.”
In Hula in Homs district, at least 10 people were killed in an army assault with tanks, Rihawi said.
“About 25 tanks and troop carriers entered Hula and carried out military operations,” another activist, Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said earlier.
The Local Coordination Committees which organised the protests said on Facebook that snipers were posted on rooftops in Deir Ezzor “and they are firing on anything that moves,” and also gave a toll of 42 dead. (AFP)