2011-06-07 09:38:31

Syria: protestors fear crackdown in wake of violence

In Syria, armed men have killed 120 government security forces and torched government buildings in a northern region where troops have unleashed deadly assaults on protesters for days. The government described the attackers as “armed gangs” – regime shorthand for the protestors – and vowed to respond “decisively,” raising the spectre of yet another brutal crackdown by a regime that has a reputation for crushing dissent. Opposition activists acknowledged there had been fighting, though they questioned the official casualty toll and said it was not clear who had been involved.

They also said they believe authorities were setting the stage for a new onslaught. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner accuses the Syria government of orchestrating the crowd. If confirmed, Monday's attack in the north would be a turning point in what so far has largely been a peaceful uprising threatening the 40-year rule of President Bashar Assad and his family. Communications were cut to the area around Jisr al-Shughour yesterday and the details of the attack were impossible to verify, but there have been unconfirmed reports by activists and residents in the past of Syrians and even mutinous troops fighting back against security forces.

Listen to Chris Altieri's report: RealAudioMP3

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