At least four people were killed as Syrian forces stormed student dormitories during an anti-government protest at Aleppo University on Thursday.
The Associated Press reported that the forces fired tear gas and bullets in an hours-long siege that forced the closure of the state-run school.
According to the report, siege began late Wednesday when around 1,500 students held a protest against President Bashar Assad's regime. Pro-regime students attacked the crowd with knives before security forces swept in, firing tear gas and then live ammunition, according to activists.
“Some students ran to their rooms to take cover, but they were followed to their rooms, beaten up and arrested,” student activist Thaer al-Ahmed told AP. “Others suffered cuts and broken bones as they tried to flee.”
Al-Ahmed added that raids and intermittent gunfire continued for about five hours through early Thursday and that dozens of people were wounded, some critically. 200 students were arrested, he said.
The student quarters — known as the University City — comprise 20 dormitories that house more than 5,000 students next to the university campus. Students there often shout anti-Assad slogans from their rooms at night.
The Local Coordination Committees activist group said five students were killed and some 200 arrested in the raids, while the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at four.
Al-Ahmed and the Observatory's director Rami Abdul-Rahman said that pro-regime students armed with knives tried to break up the protest before the security forces raided the dorms.
Aleppo, a major economic hub, has remained largely loyal to Assad and has been spared the kind of daily bloodshed that has plagued other Syrian cities over the course of the year-long uprising.
Meanwhile on Thursday, UN truce observers toured other restive parts of Syria, and residents told them of being too terrified to walk on the streets after dark. The UN estimates 9,000 people have been killed since the revolt began, and a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan nearly a month ago has done little to stem the bloodshed.
White House spokesman Jay Carney admitted the plan might be doomed.
“If the regime's intransigence continues, the international community is going to have to admit defeat,” he was quoted by AP as having said, adding that new measures might have to be taken, including a return to the UN Security Council.