News / Middle East

At Least 12 Dead in Latest Syria Violence

A young boy holds up a sign that reads,
A young boy holds up a sign that reads, "Hama 1982," during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Idlib February 3, 2012.

Activists report at least 12 deaths as protests and clashes rippled across Syria Friday while the United Nations Security Council struggled to craft a resolution to help end the bloodshed.

Opposition activists said tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities and towns across the country to mark the 30th anniversary this week of a bloody crackdown on the city of Hama.  Amnesty International says the February 1982 siege, ordered by the father of Syrian President Bashar Assad, killed between 10,000 and 25,000 people.

Video posted on the Internet claims to show Friday's marches in Homs and Damascus, as well as some in the Idlib region. Another video clip showed a mortar round exploding in a residential area of Homs Thursday.

Opposition activists said Friday's clashes with security forces killed at least 12 people, though the claims could not be independently confirmed.

The latest unrest comes as diplomats at the United Nations again pushed for a Security Council resolution to condemn the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on dissent.

Russia has continually objected to any text that hints at regime change or that does not explicitly rule out foreign military intervention.  

A draft European-Arab resolution circulated on Thursday contained wording that said the council "fully supports" an Arab League proposal for a political transition in Syria.  Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a closed-door session of the world body Moscow would veto the draft if the phrase "fully supports" remained.

On Friday, diplomats were set to meet again on the latest version. Some envoys expressed hope that Russia would go along with it.

However, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov as saying the draft was "not enough for us to be able to support it."

More than 300 Syrians were killed nationwide in the last week. Much of the violence has occurred near Damascus as government troops drove the rebel Free Syrian Army out of the city's eastern suburbs during several days of heavy fighting.

The Syrian government accuses armed terrorists of driving the anti-Assad revolt and killing 2,000 security personnel. The United Nations estimated the death toll from the 11-month opposition uprising and the government crackdown hit 5,400 last month.  It has since stopped updating the figure because of difficulties in obtaining information.

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

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