Activists: Syrian troops kill 15 in raids, rallies

September 16, 2011 - 7:20 AM
Mideast Syria

A Syrian man cleans while attached to his shop is a portrait of Syrian President Bashar Assad with Arabic words reading: We love you, Welders homes peace on you,

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say the Syrian regime has killed 15 people during the latest raids and opposition protests across the nation.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two protesters were killed in the central city of Homs when security forces started shooting at demonstrators who streamed into the streets after Friday prayers.

The group also says raids earlier on Friday killed five in the central province of Hama and eight people in the northwestern region of Jabal al-Zawiya.

The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, also put the day's death toll at 15.

The popular uprising started in Syria in mid-March and President Bashar Assad has reacted with deadly force.

The U.N. estimates some 2,600 people have been killed.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces opened fire at protesters who streamed into the streets after Friday prayers, hours after troops killed at least four people in raids in the central province of Hama, activists said.

The activists said there was no immediate word on casualties regarding the shooting at protesters after the prayers. The Syrian opposition called for protests Friday, labeling it, "we will continue until we bring down the regime."

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said intense shooting was heard around the Rawda mosque in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. It added that forces opened fire at protesters outside a mosque in the Damascus suburb of Daraya.

Syria-based rights activist Mustafa Osso said thousands poured into the streets of predominantly Kurdish northeastern towns such as Qamishli, Amouda, and Derbasiyeh.

The observatory said that raids earlier Friday in the central province of Hama left at least four people dead and 11 wounded.

State-run TV said a policeman was killed and four wounded Friday when they came under fire in the village of Busra Hariri in the southern province of Daraa, where the protests sparked six months ago.

A popular uprising began in Syria in mid-March, amid a wave of anti-government protests in the Arab world that have already toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. President Bashar Assad has reacted with deadly force that the U.N. estimates has left some 2,600 people dead.

Syria has disputed accounts of civilian deaths and says the regime is fighting terrorists and thugs — not true reform seekers. A senior Assad adviser, Buthaina Shaaban, said Monday that the toll was really 1,400 — evenly split between security forces and the opposition.

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Bassem Mroue can be reached at http://twitter.com/bmroue