Syrian anti-government activists say at least 22 people have been killed in two days of attacks by government forces on the port city of Latakia. Reports say gunships have shelled neighborhoods from the sea, while tanks are rolling through the city.
Amateur video released by Syrian dissident groups, but which could not be independently identified, showed attacks by Syrian government forces on residential neighborhoods in Latakia.
The government news agency SANA told a different story, saying security forces were pursuing gangs armed with machine guns, grenades and explosive devices. The news agency said two government soldiers and four gunmen had been killed and 41 troops wounded.
Residents said the only individuals with firearms were government forces and pro-government militia known as Shabiha.
It was the second day of raids in the port city, after thousands of people rallied Friday to call for an end to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Thousands of people have been staging similar demonstrations in a half-dozen other cities around the country. Amateur video posted Sunday showed demonstrators protesting Friday in Homs.
They were shown chanting slogans against the al-Assad government and in support of demonstrators in other Syrian cities.
Human-rights groups say more than 400 people have been killed since the government began a major crackdown two weeks ago at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. At least 1,700 hundred people have reportedly died since Syria's anti-government uprising began five months ago.
Human-rights groups say they have documented nearly 3,000 disappearances and 25,000 arbitrary arrests. They say they plan to appeal to the United Nations to launch an investigation into crimes against humanity on the part of the Syrian government.
The rising level of violence been condemned the United Nations and many Arab and Western governments.
Western governments have placed travel bans on three-dozen senior Syrian officials and blocked financial activities of several companies with ties to the regime.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday urged countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas. She also called for countries who have been supporting the Syrian government to, in her words, get on the right side of history.
Syrian dissidents say Damascus is using revenues from its petroleum exports to pay for the crackdown. They say the Western response has been weak and slow.