Tanks rumbled into the central Syrian city of Homs at dawn yesterday, a day after security forces killed at least 34 anti-regime protesters across the country, adding urgency to a UN mission expected this weekend.
“Several tanks took up positions at dawn in the district of al-Khalidiyeh” in Homs, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Throughout the night and this morning shots were heard from al-Khalidiyeh to Baba Amr and Inshaat,” he said, referring to two other central locations in the city.
Regime forces were also conducting arrests in the city of Latakia early yesterday, the Observatory said, adding that many of those picked up were minors.
In addition, one person was wounded yesterday in the al-Herak district of southern Daraa Province where relatives and parents staged a protest outside a hospital demanding the bodies of their loved ones, the Observatory said.
The rights advocacy group said the death toll from Friday’s crackdown on protesters rose to 34, including 15 people who were killed in Daraa where 25 others were also wounded.
It said security forces had also killed 16 civilians in Homs, including five in the flashpoint neighborhood of al-Khalidiyeh.
Three protesters were also shot dead on Friday in the Damascus suburbs of Harasta and Douma, the Observatory said.
The UN said that a humanitarian mission would visit Syria this weekend to witness the effects of the crackdown on protesters.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the UN Security Council on Thursday there was “reliable corroborative evidence” that Syrian forces are deliberately shooting anti-regime demonstrators.
Pillay also said in an interview with France 24 television that her department had drawn up a list of 50 Syrians in senior positions that she said were responsible for violent repression.
The civilian death toll from the security force crackdown on the protests has now passed 2,000, UN Undersecretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe also told the Security Council on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey dismissed growing calls led by US President Barack Obama for Assad to quit, offering the Syrian leader rare support despite a damning UN report on his “apparent shoot to kill” policy.