Syrian army kills 95 in Hama city


More than 90 people were killed on Sunday as the Syrian military launched an attack on the flashpoint protest city of Hama on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a human rights activist said.
Ammar Qorabi, who heads the National Organisation for Human Rights, said that army attacks across Syria killed at least 121 people and wounded dozens more. Another activist put the overall toll at 123. “The army and security forces launched an attack on Hama and opened fire on civilians, killing 95 people,” Qorabi said, adding he had a list of names of 62 of the dead.
He added that “19 people were killed in Deir Ezzor in the east, six more died in Harak in the south and one in Al-Bukamal,” also in the east. According to Qorabi, “snipers took up positions on rooftops” in Deir Ezzor where “most of those shot were hit in the head and the neck.”
Another rights group reported that 47 people were killed in and around Hama, including two shot dead by security forces in the village of Suran outside the city, bringing the day’s overall death toll to 123. Dozens were also wounded when security forces shot at “residents who took to the streets to protest when they heard the news about Hama,” said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
He quoted a Hama hospital source as saying: “The number of those wounded is huge and hospitals cannot cope, particularly because we lack the adequate equipment.” On the international front, British Foreign Secretary William Hague urged Assad to call off the Hama assault. “I am appalled by the reports that the Syrian security forces have stormed Hama with tanks and other heavy weapons this morning, killing dozens of people,” Hague said. “President Bashar is mistaken if he believes that oppression and military force will end the crisis in his country. He should stop this assault on his own people now.”
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, meanwhile, threatened new sanctions against the Syrian leadership. Berlin “calls on President Assad to immediately end violence against peaceful demonstrators,” he said. “If President Assad fails to change course, we and our partners in the EU will impose new sanctions.”
PROTEST DEMONSTRATIONS: The Syrian Observatory reported demonstrations in the central city of Homs and along the Aleppo-Damascus highway – which residents cut off in several points – to protest against the Hama crackdown. Hama and the eastern oil hub of Deir Ezzor have been rallying points for pro-democracy protests since mid-March. In 1982, an estimated 20,000 people were killed in Hama when the army put down an Islamist revolt against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad’s late father, Hafez.
The president replaced the governor of Hama after a record 500,000 protesters rallied in the opposition bastion on July 1 calling for the fall of the regime. Since security forces gunned down 48 protesters in the city on June 3, Hama had escaped the clutches of the regime, activists say. The next day, more than 100,000 mourners were reported to have massed at their funerals.