Syrian troops kill 2 in sweep on agricultural plain

November 23, 2011 16:27

AMMAN - Syrian forces killed two villagers on Wednesday in an agricultural area acting as a supply line for defectors, and clamped down on a Damascus suburb where loyalist troops have been targeted in sporadic attacks, activists and residents said.

A 36-year-old milkman was among the two people killed when an armored column entered the town of Hayaleen and surrounding villages on the al-Ghab Plain. Troops fired machine guns from tanks and trucks and set fire to several houses after arresting around 100 people, they said.

It was not possible to confirm the events independently. The authorities, who blame the unrest on "armed terrorist groups", have barred most independent media from Syria. They say troops are using lawful means to contain foreign-backed attacks on civilians, soldiers and police.

Thousands of soldiers have fled the regular army since it started cracking down on an eight-month protest movement to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. They have formed armed units loosely linked to the umbrella "Free Syrian Army," led by officers hiding in Turkey.

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