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The mounting international outcry has had no apparent effect so far in Syria, an autocratic country that relies on Iran as a main ally in the region.

About 1,700 civilians have been killed since the largely peaceful protests against Assad’s regime began in mid- March, according to tallies by activists.

Syria has banned independent media coverage and has prevented most foreign journalists from entering the country, preventing independent assessments of the events.

Hama, the focus of the crackdown, has a history of defiance.

In 1982, Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, ordered the military to quell a rebellion by Syrian members of the conservative Muslim Brotherhood movement. The city was sealed off and bombs dropped from above smashed swaths of the city and killed between 10,000 and 25,000 people, rights groups say.

The real number may never be known. Then, as now, reporters were not allowed to reach the area.