HOLMS – At least 45 civilians have reportedly been killed and dozens of others wounded after Syrian tanks stormed the city of Hama, shooting indiscriminately, residents said, according to Al Jazeera. The attack on Sunday morning came nearly a month after Syrian forces besieged the city, following some of the largest demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad’s rule since protests began in March, the Reuters news agency reported. One of the residents, a doctor who did not want to be further identified for fear of arrest, told Reuters that the tanks were attacking from four different direction and “firing randomly”.
“They are firing their heavy machine guns randomly and overrunning makeshift road blocks erected by the inhabitants,” he said by phone, the sound of machine gun fire crackling in the background. He said that there were 51 people wounded at Badr hospital alone, which was running short of blood for transfusions. He said tanks had surrounded another main hospital, al-Horani. Another resident said snipers had climbed onto the roofs of the state-owned electricity company and the main prison, and that electricity had been cut in eastern neighbourhoods.
Assad is attempting to crush an uprising against his 11-year rule that broke out in March, inspired by “Arab Spring” revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and has spread across the country.
Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of fighting.
The Syrian leadership blames “armed terrorist groups” for most killings during the revolt, saying that more than 500 soldiers and security personnel have been killed. Elsewhere on Sunday, three people were killed by security forces at Harak in the southern Deraa region, and six in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour and, rights campaigner Rami Abdel Rahman said, cited by the BBC. On Saturday, troops shot dead three people who threw stones at a military convoy sent to quash the near-daily protests in Deir al-Zour, he said. A total of 20 people were killed and 35 wounded on Friday as hundreds of thousands of protested in cities across Syria, rights groups said.