Continued from page 1

Amateur videos posted online showed Syrian soldiers in SUVs and pickup trucks as they drove down a street, apparently in Latakia. The troop were greeted in the al-Ramel neighborhood by Assad supporters chanting “our souls and our blood we sacrifice for you Bashar.”

Another video showed a military helicopter flying over the coast.

The Associated Press could not verify the videos. Syria has banned most foreign media and restricted local coverage, making it impossible to get independent confirmation of the events on the ground.

Al-Ramel is home to a crowded Palestinian refugee camp where many low-income Syrians also live. UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, says thousands of refugees have fled the camp since Assad’s forces began shelling the city in an operation that started Saturday.

“We have seen these same reports — we consider them credible —that Syrian forces fired into the U.N. Relief and Works Agency camp and that it has caused thousands of Palestinians to flee,” said U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, speaking to reporters in Washington. “This just speaks to the brutality and indiscriminate nature of the violence that Assad has unleashed.”

UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said Wednesday the agency was providing assistance to about 2,000 displaced people at a temporary office outside the camp.

Tunisia’s foreign ministry said Wednesday it has recalled its ambassador to Syria because of the “dangerous” developments in the country. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain also have recalled their ambassadors as Arab states joined the chorus of condemnation in recent weeks.

The foreign ministers of Turkey and Jordan renewed their call on Damascus to immediately end its crackdown.

In a joint news conference held on the sidelines of an Islamic nations’ meeting to discuss famine in Somalia, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said: “The bloodshed must stop, all soldiers must be withdrawn from the cities and life in these cities must return to normal.”

Associated Press writer Suzan Fraser contributed to this report from Ankara.