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SYRIA: Activists report at least 14 dead as hunt for defector continues

September 4, 2011 | 11:10 am

At least 14 died Sunday in one of the bloodier days of the Syrian government's crackdown against anti-regime protesters, activists reported. 

Activists and residents said military forces have launched an offensive in the cities of Idleb and Hama as part of an operation to find Adnan Mohamad Bakkour, the Hama attorney general who defected last week. 

"Tanks are on the streets trying to coerce residents to divulge information about Bakkour," said Moustafa, a farmer in Idleb, which is on the border with Turkey.

"At least four people have died there," said Moustafa, who like many Syrians during the current unrest didn't want his full name published for fear of retribution.

Amateur video footage uploaded on YouTube on Sunday reports to show tanks in position in the middle of narrow streets in Idleb.

Security forces in and out of uniform stormed the Bab Amro neighborhood of Homs as part of a broad assault on the area, said Majed, 45, a legal activist in Homs.

"Shooting has been going on all day. Indiscriminate shooting aimed at homes. The area of Janoub al Malaab has been under attack," Majed said.

Activists also reported a widespread detention operation across the restive city. 

Bakkour, the former attorney general, resigned last week, saying he was protesting brutality by the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad against "unarmed and peaceful civilians." State news agencies dismissed Bakkour's allegations as "false fabrications," saying they were made under duress at the hands of armed opponents of the regime.

Military offensives also reportedly spread to the tribal area of Dair Al Zour, bordering Iraq. The opposition's activist network, the Local Coordination Committees, reported that at least 30 people were arrested in mass raids carried in and around residential neighborhoods of Dair Al Zour.

Mass arrests have been common in the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. The video below, from last month, is said to show security forces in Lattakia reprimanding and humiliating detained protesters in what appears to be a classroom. 

"Who is your boss?" a soldier asks one man.

"President Bashar Hafez Assad," the man responds.

"Liar," the soldier yells, slapping the detained protester on his neck.

Syrian Arab News Agency, SANA, reported Sunday that six Syrian officers had been killed in an ambush by an armed group in central Syria. 

The violence continued after Jakob Kellenberger, President of International Committee of the Red Cross, met with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem on Sunday. Kellenberger is scheduled to meet President Assad on Monday as part of a mission to assess the humanitarian situation in the country.

ALSO:

Attorney general in Hama denounces regime, quits

Thousands in Khaldieh protest Assad regime [Video]

Satellite TV station keeps Moammar Kadafi on the air

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

Videos: Top, images said to show tanks deployed in the streets of Idleb; bottom, images said to show soldiers assaulting detained anti-Assad protesters. Credit: YouTube

International Committee of the Red Cross

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