Seven killed in Syria in 24 hours, say activists

The uprising in Syria has lasted for more than five months and shows no signs of stopping.

DAMASCUS // Syrian security forces killed seven people - including a woman who died under torture - and arrested more than 150 others in the past 24 hours in a Damascus suburb, activists said yesterday.

Four people died in the protest hub of Homs in central Syria, while two demonstrators were killed in the northern city of Talbisseh by security forces yesterday, according to the Local Coordination Committees, which groups activists on the ground.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a 28-year-old woman, who was arrested a week ago, died under torture in Khan Shehoun yesterday.

The uprising in Syria has lasted for more than five months and shows no signs of stopping.

With President Bashar Al Assad's forces cracking down on the protests, the overall death toll has reached 2,200 since March, the United Nations said this week.

On Tuesday, the European Union froze the assets of an Iranian military unit as part of broader sanctions against Syria, saying the Tehran-based force has aided the Syrian regime's deadly crackdown on protesters.

The EU added the Quds Force, a specialist arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, four Syrian entities and 15 people to the bloc's list of those targeted by an asset freeze and travel ban.

"The Quds Force is involved in providing equipment and support to help the Syria regime suppress protests," the EU said yesterday in the Official Journal. The decision, taken on Tuesday in Brussels, expands EU sanctions against Syria to 50 people and nine entities.

It comes as the bloc prepares to prohibit imports of crude oil from the country. The EU is broadening sanctions against people and groups deemed "responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria".

The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, announced the planned expansion of the list and oil embargo last week, citing "intensifying large-scale use of indiscriminate military force".

The EU government representatives held an initial discussion on Tuesday about the plan to ban oil imports from Syria. They are due to resume talks on the matter this week, according to Michael Mann, Ms Ashton's spokesman.

Mr Al Assad has shrugged off international condemnation and calls for him to step down, insisting armed gangs are driving the violence, not true reform seekers.

Syria has banned foreign media and restricted local coverage.

While witness accounts and amateur video footage describe a brutal crackdown by security forces, Syria's state-run news agency says the forces are the real victims of gunmen and religious extremists.

Yesterday, the official news agency, Sana, released pictures of 14 decomposing corpses, saying "armed terrorist groups" kidnapped and tortured them and dumped their bodies around Homs.

* Bloomberg, Agence France-Presse and Associated Press

Published: August 25, 2011 04:00 AM

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