'Syrian forces kill 23 civilians, 5 deserters'

Four children shot dead by troops near a school in the central region of Houla, says Observatory for Human Rights.

By REUTERS
November 23, 2011 07:18
1 minute read.
A tank keeps watch in Banias, Syria, Monday.

syrian tank_311 reuters. (photo credit: Reuters)

AMMAN - Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar Assad killed 23 civilians and five army deserters on Tuesday in a crackdown on an eight-month uprising against Assad's rule, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Among those killed were four children shot dead by troops near a school in the central region of Houla and a 12-year-old killed at a protest in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, said the group, which is led by exiled dissident Rami Abdelrahman.

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Four deserters were killed when troops stormed a farm where they were hiding near the southern city of Deraa on the Jordan border. The troops also shot dead six villagers at the farm.

A fifth deserter was killed in Qusair near the Lebanese border, the group said.

It was not possible to confirm the killings independently. The authorities, who blame the unrest on "armed terrorist groups," have barred most independent media.

Local activists said an armored column entered the region overnight and troops erected roadblocks after a funeral for an activist turned into an anti-Assad protest. They added that tanks fired heavy machineguns and troops manning the roadblocks opened fire at random in the morning.


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