News / Middle East

    At Least 7 Killed in Syria Protests

    Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint at the entrance of Harasta northeast of the capital Damascus, August 29, 2011
    Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint at the entrance of Harasta northeast of the capital Damascus, August 29, 2011

    Syrian forces have killed seven people after opening fire on protesters on the first day of the Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

    Activists say the deadly crackdown on dissent Tuesday came after thousands of people poured on to streets across Syria with renewed calls for President Bashar al-Assad's departure.

    The Local Coordination Committees of the opposition says the deaths occurred in two southern towns and the central city of Homs after worshippers finished morning prayers marking Eid al-Fitr.

    On Monday, security forces killed six people during raids in towns where there had been anti-Assad protests.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the majority of those deaths were in Sarameen, in northern Idlib Province.  The group said forces killed five people there and wounded at least 60 as they opened fire during search and arrest operations.

    Meanwhile, President Assad continues to face growing international condemnation for the government crackdown.

    On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressed deep concern about what she called the Syrian government's violence against peaceful demonstrators and rights activists.

    The statement released by her office cited a Saturday attack on worshippers leaving a mosque and last week's attack on political cartoonist Ali Ferzat. He was kidnapped and severely beaten by assailants near Damascus.

    The Syrian government has blamed much of the country's violence on what it calls armed gangs and terrorists.

    The United Nations says more than 2,200 people have been killed since March, when protesters began calling for reforms and an end to Assad's 11-year autocratic rule.

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

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