BBC | August 1, 2011
Syrian troops backed by tanks have renewed attacks on the city of Hama on the second day of a crackdown on anti-government protesters, activists say.
Resident Omar al-Habal told the BBC that people were building barricades and burning tyres to keep troops out. One report said four people had died.
Security forces killed scores of people in the city on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the situation.
Activists say about 130 people died across the country on Sunday, making it one of the bloodiest days since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in mid-March.
The BBC’s Jim Muir, in Beirut, says Hama still seems to be largely under the control of its own inhabitants rather than the government.
Tanks and troops which had tried to take control of the city on Sunday, withdrew to the outskirts overnight but now seem to be pushing ahead again, he adds.
Some families in Hama have buried their dead in parks or in the gardens of their own homes because they are afraid to go out, the BBC’s Lina Sinjab in the capital Damascus says.
Witnesses reported tanks shelling a north-eastern district of Hama on Monday, the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Mr Habal told the BBC there had been shooting in Hama “from all sides by all types of weapons”.
“Bombs and heavy artillery, machine guns… and all around the city the people on the barricades light the tyres to protect the city,” he said.
He said people in villages around Hama had also erected barricades on the main streets leading into the city.
Intense shooting also broke out in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour overnight, Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.
There are also reports of tanks storming the eastern town of Abu Kamal, on the border with Iraq. Activists say the town has been under siege for about two weeks.
International journalists have been denied access to Syria and it is not possible to verify accounts by witnesses and activists.
Government attempts to crush continuing protests across Syria have brought strong international condemnation, with Germany and Italy calling for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council. Germany is currently a member of the council.
UN officials said an emergency meeting of the security council would be held behind closed doors at about 17:00 in New York (21:00 GMT) on Monday.
Some security council members including Russia and China have so far opposed resolutions condemning Damascus.
yet of President Assad.
Earlier, US President Barack Obama said he was “appalled” by the Syrian government’s use of brutality.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the UN Security Council to take a “clear stand on the need to end the violence”. In a statement on Monday, she also announced further EU sanctions against members of the Syrian regime.
In an interview with the BBC on Monday, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague called for stronger international pressure on Syria. “We do want to see additional sanctions. We want to see stronger
international pressure all round. Of course, to be effective, that can’t just be pressure from Western nations, that includes from Arab nations, it includes from Turkey,” Mr Hague said.
Seeking military action against Syria, even with UN authority, was “not a remote possibility”, he added.
On Monday, President Assad praised the military for “foiling the enemies” of the state, the official news agency reported.
The Syrian government has promised reforms but says its troops are being attacked by “armed gangs” who are backed by unspecified foreign powers.