Hama suffers heaviest barrage of shelling in 2-day assault

Syrian tanks bombard areas of city in crackdown on anti-Assad protesters; shelling begins after Ramadan prayers.

By REUTERS, GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
August 1, 2011 22:39
3 minute read.
Syrian tanks (illustrative).

Syrian soldiers leaving Deraa 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

AMMAN - Syrian tanks pounded residential neighborhoods across the city of Hama on Monday in the heaviest barrage of a two-day assault to crush street demonstrations against President Bashar Assad, witnesses said.

Earlier on Monday, residents said at least four civilians were killed by tank fire on the second day of attacks on the city, where memories are still vivid of the brutal suppression of an uprising in 1982.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Intense shelling began again after Ramadan evening prayers, concentrating on districts near the al-Bilal roundabout in the northwest of the city, the Jarajmeh district in the east and northern neighborhoods near the Omar bin al-Khattab mosque.

"The shells are falling once every ten seconds," one witness told Reuters by phone. The thump of artillery and explosions could be heard in the background.

The Security Council was set to meet Monday afternoon at the United Nations headquarters in New York to discuss that reports that Syrian government forces had launched a massive crackdown against protesters over the weekend.

The council, which was slated to gather at 5:00 PM local time, was urgently convened by Germany on Sunday to address the growing violence in the restive Middle-Eastern country.

Ahead of the meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the international communityon Monday to rebuke Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and his government "in the strongest possible terms”.



At least 85 civilians have been reported killed in the crackdown on Hama, where Assad's father crushed an armed Muslim Brotherhood revolt 29 years ago by razing neighbourhoods and killing many thousands of people.

"No one can leave the town because the troops and shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) are shooting at random with machineguns," a Hama resident, who gave his name as Raed, told Reuters by telephone during the earlier attack.

Security forces, dominated by Assad's minority Alawite sect, had besieged Hama, a mainly Sunni Muslim city of 700,000, for nearly a month before the assault.

Analysts said that by choosing to crush the dissent there with overwhelming military force, Assad had chosen a path of no return against those clamoring for his overthrow.

His government is signaling to its critics abroad that it will not bow to calls for change that have swept across the Arab world, and to its people that it is prepared to wade through blood to stay in power.

"What has been clear is that the government is prepared to use force without limit," Beirut-based Middle East analyst Rami Khouri told Reuters. "But this is not solving the problem. instead, it is making the rebellion more robust."

Residents said among those killed on Monday was Khaled Adel al-Sheikh Mossa, whose house was hit in early morning shelling. A roof of another house collapsed and a pharmacy was destroyed. A doctor said a youth died after being shot in the chest.

Army tanks also stormed the eastern town of Albu Kamal after a two-week siege, activists in the region said, as the military steps up assaults aimed at subduing dissent in the tribal Deir al-Zor province bordering Iraq's Sunni heartland.

They said one man, Ibrahim al-Mashadani, was killed as tanks occupied the center. Residents said tanks surrounded Albu Kamal on July 17 after thousands of people, emboldened by army defections in the town, staged anti-Assad protests.

The latest violence cast a pall over the start of Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast in daylight hours.

Residents said at least 29 civilians had been killed in a weekend tank assault on Deir al-Zor, the provincial capital.

Syrian authorities have expelled most foreign journalists since the anti-Assad protests began in March, making it hard to verify activists' reports or official statements.

Related Content

HOUTHI SHI’ITE rebels in Yemen
August 21, 2018
Report: IRGC officer confirms helping Houthis fire rockets at Saudis

By YONAH JEREMY BOB