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Syrian Forces Launch Raids, Make Arrests


Syrian troops, in this citizen journalism image, August 14, 2011

Syrian troops, in this citizen journalism image, August 14, 2011

Syrian security forces are again raiding towns and villages throughout the country and arresting suspected government opponents as part of President Bashar al-Assad's crackdown on political dissent.

Human rights groups said Wednesday that tanks were used in some of the raids, which began late Tuesday and continued into Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Reuters news agency quoted an Arab League official on Wednesday who said the group would hold an urgent meeting on Syria on Saturday.

The United Nations says at least 2,200 people have died in Syria during the government's five-month crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. However, Assad has blamed much of the deadly violence on what he says are armed "gangs" and "terrorists."

On Wednesday, the state-run SANA news agency showed graphic photos of what it described as victims of an attack by "armed terrorist groups" in the central city of Homs. It said 14 citizens had been "kidnapped, tortured and killed" by the assailants.

On Tuesday, western nations circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution calling for sanctions against Assad, influential family members and key associates.

U.S. and European delegations on the Security Council hope to put the resolution to a vote as soon as possible. However, they are facing resistance from Russia, which has veto-power. Moscow has said it does not think sanctioning Damascus is the right approach at the moment.

Earlier Tuesday, opponents of Assad formed a "national council" intended to coordinate efforts to oust the embattled leader. Activists meeting in Turkey announced the group's formation but they provided few details on the group's make-up.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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