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Syrian Gov't Forces Attack Towns Near Turkey

Syrian government forces attacked several towns near the border with Turkey Wednesday, according to local residents.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 8/10/2011, 4:46 PM

Syrian government forces attacked several towns near the border with Turkey Wednesday, according to local residents.

Government tanks invaded the northwestern communities of Taftanaz, as well as nearby Sermiin and Binnish. The two towns are located some 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the Syrian-Turkish border.

According to a local resident who spoke with the Reuters news agency after fleeing the town, Binnish was attacked because “the whole town has been joining in night rallies after Ramadan prayers.”

Government troops conducted house-to-house raids and arbitrary arrests in Sermiin, which was attacked from three sides, according to the Local Coordinating Committees.

Several people were reportedly killed, including a woman. Late in the day, tanks were also deployed around the city of Idlib following demonstrations there, according to Al Jazeera. Local activists reported that at least five civilians had been killed in raids on villages around the central Syrian city of Hama, including two little girls from the same family, a 6-year-old and an 11-year-old.

The report could not be confirmed because foreign journalists have been barred from entering Syria, Al Jazeera noted.

The attacks came on the heels of a warning a day earlier by the Ankara government that time was running out for President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Assad in a meeting Tuesday in Damascus that it is time to stop killing civilian protesters.

More than 1,700 civilians have reportedly lost their lives and tens of thousands of others have been arrested since March in the Syrian government crackdown. However, Assad responded that his forces will not stop pursuing what he called “armed terrorist groups,” according to the Syrian state-run news agency SANA.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Mouallem is expected to meet with envoys from India, South Africa and Brazil today (Wednesday), who are reportedly planning to urge Syria to negotiate with the protesters.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council is also scheduled to meet to discuss the situation in the civil war-torn nation. The session comes one week after the body issued a statement condemning the violence and after a number of Arab nations did the same.

Numerous countries, including several Arab nations, have recalled their ambassadors from Damascus over Assad's brutality against his citizens.