Syria: Dozens dead, hundreds held in Latakia

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Syria: Dozens dead, hundreds held in Latakia

Syria: Dozens dead, hundreds held in Latakia
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Syrian state TV has broadcast video which it says shows security forces pulling out of one neighbourhood of the western port city of Latakia.

Government media said they had completed their mission against “armed terrorist groups who have terrorised citizens.”

But locals said the crackdown on demonstrations against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – including the shelling of Palestinian refugee camps and a four-day tank assault – has left dozens dead.

One resident told Reuters: “Tanks are continuing to deploy, they are now in the main Thawra(Revolution) Street.” He said hundreds of people had been arrested and are being held in a sports stadium.

A Palestinian official described the military offensive in Latakia and against the al-Raml al-Filistini refugee camps as “a crime against humanity” adding to Arab and international outrage.

Latakia is just one centre of opposition to Assad’s rule, amateur video continues to emerge of demonstrations in major urban centres around the country, including in some suburbs of the capital Damascus.

The escalating crackdown on the five-month old uprising has caused a chorus of international condemnation.

Assad, who says the protests are largely a foreign conspiracy to divide Syria, has been told by the United States, the European Union and Turkey to halt the crackdown.

“The bloodshed has to stop, first and foremost,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. “If the operations continue in Syria and the operations become a regional problem Turkey can naturally not remain indifferent.”

Western diplomats said another United Nations meeting is likely next week.

Russia meanwhile has said it will continue to sell weapons and ammunition to Syria because there is not currently a UN ban on that.

That comes even though US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directly challenged Moscow to stop arms sales and “get on the right side of history.”