Global Market Data
Global News Journal
Pakistan: Now or Never?
Front Row Washington
The Great Debate
Personal Finance Video
Life & Culture
Photos of the week
Our top photos from the past week. Full Article
Drunk father lets 8-year-old son drive pickup: police
30 Jul 2011
Scientology book author reveals church's inner workings
29 Jul 2011
Lawmakers race clock to clinch debt limit deal
FBI offers $25,000 reward in case of Missing N.H. girl
30 Jul 2011
Five deaths from Joplin tornado linked to fungal infection
30 Jul 2011
Vote delayed on debt bill as default date looms
Debt compromise eyed under deadline squeeze
Obama, Congress fail to break debt deadlock
U.S. House passes debt limit increase
Fri, Jul 29 2011
Democratic debt-limit bill falls short in U.S. House.
"McConnell stuck it to Reid": McCarthy
Sat, Jul 30 2011
Syrian tanks storm Hama, 24 dead: doctor
Timeline: Syrian protests and crackdown
Analysis & Opinion
Commodities in, cash out for Tea Party wealth advisers as debt deadline looms
Al Shabaab recruited dozens of Americans: U.S. report
20 reportedly killed in Syria
Sat, Jul 30 2011
A giant Syrian flag is held by the crowd during a protest against President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in the city centre of Hama July 29, 2011.
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Sun Jul 31, 2011 2:41am EDT
AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian tanks stormed the city of Hama at dawn on Sunday, killing at least 24 civilians, residents said, after besieging it for nearly a month to crush some of the biggest demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.
A doctor, who did not want to be further identified for fear of arrest, told Reuters that the city's Badr, al-Horani and Hikmeh hospitals had received 19, three and two dead bodies respectively.
There were scores of wounded people and a shortage of blood for transfusions, he said by telephone from the city, which has a population of around 700,000.
"Tanks are attacking from four directions. They are firing their heavy machineguns randomly and overrunning makeshift road blocks erected by the inhabitants," the doctor said, the sound of machinegun fire crackling in the background.
"The casualties are higher. There are bodies uncollected in the streets," said another resident, adding that army snipers had climbed onto the roofs of the state-owned electricity company and the main prison.
Tank shells were falling at the rate of four a minute in and around northern Hama, residents said, and electricity and water supplies to the main neighborhoods had been cut -- a tactic used regularly by the military when storming towns to crush protests.
Assad is trying to end an uprising against his 11-year rule that broke out in March, inspired by 'Arab Spring' revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and has spread across the country.
Syrian authorities have expelled most independent journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of fighting.
Hama was the scene of a massacre in 1982 when Assad's father, the late president Hafez al-Assad, sent his troops to crush an Islamist-led uprising, razing whole neighborhoods and killing up to 30,000 people in the bloodiest episode of Syria's modern history.
The U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, visited the city earlier this month in a gesture of international support for what he described as peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, once one of Assad's main allies, said in May "we do not want to see another Hama massacre," and warned the 45-year-old president that it would be hard to contain the consequences if it were repeated.
The Syrian leadership blames "armed terrorist groups" for most killings during the revolt, saying that more than 500 soldiers and security personnel have been killed.
An activist group, Avaaz, said in a report last week that Syrian security forces had killed 1,634 people in the course of their crackdown, while at least 2,918 had disappeared. A further
26,000 had been arrested, many of whom were beaten and tortured, and 12,617 remained in detention, it said.
ASSAULT IN EAST
In the east of the country, Syrian forces began a major assault two days ago in a tribal oil-producing province on the border with Iraq's Sunni heartland.
An activists' group said at least five civilians were killed in the eastern provincial capital of Deir al-Zor on Saturday, the second day of a tank- and helicopter-backed attack on the city.
The group, the Syrian Revolution Coordination Union, said 57 soldiers in Deir al-Zor, including two lieutenants and a captain, had defected to the demonstrators. It said residents had formed local committees and erected makeshift barriers to try to halt the advance of tanks and armored vehicles inside the city.
"More tank columns are heading to Deir al-Zor. By using heavy weapons, security forces are waging war against their own people," the group said in a statement.
The official state news agency said: "Armed groups in Deir al-Zor cut off roads, terrorized citizens and attacked police."
It added: "An exchange of fire occurred. The police forces confronted these armed groups and are still chasing them... The inhabitants of Deir al-Zor have expressed their rejection of these actions which are bad for the homeland."
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Social Stream (What's this?)
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electric trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.