Syrian troops bomb central town

Syrian troops bombarded a town in the central province of Homs with artillery today, causing several casualties a day after nine people were killed in a continuing crackdown in the country’s turbulent heartland, activists said.

The Local Co-ordination Committees in Syria, which help organise and document the protests, said the town of Tabliseh was bombed this morning. It said snipers were deployed on roofs of mosques.

Syrian troops, backed by tanks, have been conducting operations in Tabliseh and the nearby town of Rastan Teir Maaleh since yesterday.

Syria’s state-run news agency said four soldiers were killed and 14 wounded in Tabliseh.

The latest attack using military forces underscored President Bashar Assad’s determination to crush the two-month-old revolt, despite US and European sanctions, including an EU assets freeze and a visa ban on Assad and nine members of his regime.

The uprising, which began in mid-March, is posing the most serious challenge to the Assad family’s 40-year rule.

What began as a disparate movement demanding reforms has erupted into a resilient uprising seeking Assad’s ouster.

Human rights groups say more than 1,000 people have been killed in the crackdown.

Rights activist Mustafa Osso said troops have entered several towns in the restive Homs province and detained hundreds of people since Sunday. He added that since Sunday night, Rastan and Tabliseh have been subjected to heavy machine gun fire.

Residents of the Homs towns have held anti-regime protests since the start of the uprising. Those protests have increased recently, with crowds taking to the streets day and night to call for the fall of Assad’s regime, an activist said.

Osso said there were several demonstrations in different parts of Syria overnight, adding that there were no reports of security forces opening fire.

In recent days, many Assad opponents have been holding protests and candlelight vigils at times of the night when the security presence has thinned out.

Syria has prevented journalists from operating freely in the country and has banned entry to many foreign reporters.

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