Syrian gunboats fire on coastal city; 5 killed

August 14, 2011 - 4:30 AM
Mideast Syria

In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone and provided by Shaam News Network, anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters hold up an Arabic banner read:

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say Syrian security forces are storming several districts in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia under heavy shelling and gunfire.

At least five people have died in the shooting according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the activist network the Local Coordination Committees.

Abdul-Rahman says gunboats in the Mediterranean are taking part in Sunday's assault. He says they are firing heavy machine guns at Latakia's el-Ramel neighborhood.

At least 20 tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into el-Ramel Saturday amid intense gunfire.

The operations in Latakia are part of a crackdown on several cities to root out protesters demanding the ouster of President Bashar Assad.