Syrian troops control southern town as report says 400 killed in revolt

Published April 26th, 2011 - 07:17 GMT

The Syrian army continued to impose its control Tuesday on the southern town of Daraa as a rights group appealed for UN intervention in a bloody crackdown it said has killed 400 people since mid-March.

On its part, Britain said it was working with its partners to send a "strong signal" to Damascus while France and Italy denounced the "unacceptable" situation in Syria.

"Syrian security forces fired on unarmed protesters killing 400 people at least since the revolution was launched in March," the Syrian Human Rights Organisation (Swasiah) said in a statement.

"This barbaric behaviour is aimed at keeping the regime in place at the expense of civilians who are killed... The (UN) Security Council must convene rapidly to stop the bloodshed...," it said, according to AFP.

In Dara'a, eyewitnesses said troops were firing on residents and a mosque and had laid siege to the home of top Muslim cleric, Mufti Rizk Abdulrahman Abazeid, who quit last week in protest at the crackdown.

Further north in the coastal town of Banias, thousands took to the streets chanting "freedom, freedom."

Also on Tuesday, authorities referred to military court prominent dissident Mahmud Issa for owning a satellite phone, a week after his arrest and an interview he gave to Al-Jazeera television. 

Meanwhile, Turkey, a regional Syrian ally, cautioned against use of excessive force on pro-reform demonstrators. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said the Turkish ambassador to Damascus, Omer Onhon, is monitoring the situation. 


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