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Heavy gunfire breaks out in Syrian coastal city; 35 dead in 4 days
BEIRUT (AP) — Heavy machine-gun fire erupted across the besieged Syrian city of Latakia on Tuesday as the death toll rose to 35 from a military assault now in its fourth day, residents and activists said.
President Bashar Assad has dramatically escalated the crackdown on a 5-month-old uprising since the start of the holy month of Ramadan. Despite broad condemnation, the regime is trying to retake control in rebellious areas by unleashing tanks, ground troops and snipers.
Most of the shooting early Tuesday was in Latakia’s impoverished al-Ramel, al-Shaab and Ein Tamra areas. Al-Ramel is home to a crowded Palestinian refugee camp where many low-income Syrians also live.
Syria has denied firing from gunboats, despite widespread witness accounts. The regime insists its crackdown is aimed at rooting out terrorists fomenting unrest in the country.
After months of deadlock, the Security Council, in a statement approved by all 15 council nations, finally responded to the escalating violence in Syria on Aug. 3, condemning Mr. Assad’s forces for attacking civilians and committing human rights violations.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of people on the ground, said at least 17 people were killed Monday, six of them in Latakia. The Local Coordination Committees, another activist group, said a 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two died Tuesday.
The deaths bring the total of those who have died in Latakia since Saturday to more than 35.
The other deaths took place in Homs and Houla in central Syria, when security forces opened fire on protesters. A man who had been shot earlier in Deir el-Zour died of his wounds Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory.
“If the operations do not end, there would be nothing more to discuss about steps that would be taken,” Mr. Davutoglu said without elaborating.
Turkey, a former close ally of Syria, has been increasingly frustrated with Damascus’ crackdown. Mr. Davutoglu traveled to Syria last week and urged Mr. Assad to end the bloodshed. But Turkey, Syria’s neighbor and an important trade partner, has not joined the U.S. and Europe in imposing sanctions.
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