Syrian dissidents report at least 50 killed in single town

At least 50 people were reportedly killed Friday in attacks in the Syrian town of Houla, northwest of Homs, opposition groups said, in what they termed one of many attacks by government forces as protests swept across the embattled country after Friday prayers.

The Local Coordination Committees activist coalition said that most of the victims were women and children. Gruesome videos of bodies and wounded children were uploaded to YouTube.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group based in Britain, said a defector from the army was among those killed as government forces shelled and fired on the city.

"The Syrian military has been trying to storm the city since morning," the group said on its website.

Syrian state media did not report have any news about an attack on Houla, but reported other attacks carried out by the rebels. The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported that terrorists, its usual term for the armed rebels, killed 16 civilians with explosives and gunfire Friday.

More than 10,000 people are believed to have lost their lives in the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad that has racked the country for more than a year.

A recent United Nations investigative report found that gross violations of human rights had continued in the country despite the deployment of U.N. observers, including attacks carried out by government forces and kidnappings and torture by some of the armed rebels.

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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

 
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