Syria: ‘Intense Shooting’ in Port City of Latakia


Heavy gunfire is reported today from the city of Latakia on the Mediterranean coast as the Syrian army’s crackdown on protesters goes into its third day.

Activists on the ground report that at least 27 people have died during the latest army action in Latakia, including women and children. The shooting began last Saturday after the eruption of mass protests against the regime in Damascus.

The district of al-Ramel al-Janoubi in the city of 400,000, some 50 kilometers south of the Turkish border, is said to be under constant fire of troops and tanks. One resident told AP that the district is even under fire from the Syrian navy. Three gunboats are taking part in the barrage.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), however, claims, that the navy is only doing its duty to protect the coast and prevent the smuggling of weapons.  According to SANA, the mass protests are still nothing else than “armed terrorist groups [that] shoot and throw dynamite on the citizens and army members with the aim of spreading terror and destruction”.

Meanwhile the international community is stepping up measures to pressure the Assad regime to end the violence. The U.S. have already sanctions in place and discuss strengthening them, while calling on other countries to follow. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait have all recalled their ambassadors and Turkey’s foreign minister Ahemt Davutoglu has called the situation “unacceptable”.

Mr. Davutoglu has said after his visit to Damascus last week, that the situation will “change in the next 10 – 15 days”. So far the changes have been for the worse in Syria.

(Sources: BBC, SANA; 15 August 2011)

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About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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