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Syria troops 'kill five' in attacks

The Syrian army shot dead at least five people in a town near the Lebanese border and stormed another town near Turkey's border, activists have said.

The shooting in the town of Qusair also wounded 16 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

But Damascus-based Abdul-Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian Human Rights League, said seven people were killed.

Anti-government protests are common in Qusair and, combined with the early morning assault on the town of Saraqeb near the Turkish border, reflected the determination of President Bashar Assad to crush the five-month old uprising despite mounting international condemnation.

Foreign diplomats have urged Assad to end a campaign of killing that rights groups say has left about 1,700 dead since mid-March. Turkey's foreign minister, a day after meeting with Assad, renewed his condemnation of the attacks.

A US-based international human rights groups released a report accusing Syrian authorities of targeting medical facilities, health workers and their patients. It called on the government to safeguard doctors' obligations to provide neutral and ethical care for civilians.

Physicians for Human Rights said security forces control access to hospitals, and many injured civilians in need of critical care are forgoing treatment because they fear being detained and tortured if they seek care at government-controlled medical facilities.

It also quoted a group of Syrian physicians as saying 134 doctors have either been detained by the government or have disappeared.

Intense protests in the Saraqeb area triggered a harsh government response, forcing hundreds of Syrians to flee across the border. The military said it withdrew from residential districts in the area and returned to its barracks.

Troops detained at least 100 people in Saraqeb, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


From Belfast Telegraph