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Syria troops sweep for dissidents in northwest

The Syrian army pressed a crackdown on dissent in the northwest on Sunday making sweeping arrests, as troops deployed in the hotbed central city of Hama

AFP , Sunday 3 Jul 2011
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Syrians Troops backed by 97 tanks and personnel carriers advanced late Saturday on Kfar Rumma village and made arrests in the district of Jabal al-Zawiyah, said Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Abdel Rahman told AFP in Nicosia that the troops moved to the outskirts of Kfar Rumma but did not enter it as residents tried to block them.

"Ninety-seven military vehicles, including tanks and personnel carriers, carrying thousands of soldiers moved Saturday night towards Kfar Rumma," he said. "Hundreds of residents emerged from their homes to confront them and prevent them from advancing, but the troops pursued their deployment to carry out their military operations."

Abdel Rahman said security forces raided several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiyah district, where the latest military campaign was launched last week. "Security forces raided several villages in Jabal al-Zawiyah, destroying the homes of activists in Al-Bara village and arresting their relatives to pressure the activists to turn themselves in," he said.

Further south, troops deployed on Saturday at key junctions leading to Hama and "heavy gunfire" was heard in the city during the night, he added.
Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad sacked the governor of Hama on Saturday, a day after hundreds of thousands rallied against the regime in the city.
Anti-government protests mushroomed on Friday in response to a call by a Facebook group.

In Hama alone, 500,000 people took to the streets, without security forces intervening, activists said, calling it the single largest demonstration of its kind since the pro-democracy movement erupted on March 15.

Assad reacted to the affront by sacking the governor of Hama, a city with a bloody past where an estimated 20,000 people were killed in 1982 when the army put down an Islamist revolt against the rule of his late father, Hafez al-Assad.

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