GUVECCI, Turkey, June 16, 2011 (AP)
Syrian security forces made sweeping arrests Thursday, randomly detaining males above the age of 16 in a northwestern province that has been under military siege for a week, a Syrian human rights activist said.
Mustafa Osso said the arrests were mainly concentrated in the Jisr al-Shughour area, the town of Maaret al-Numan and nearby villages, where the army has been massing troops for days in what appears to be a preparation for a fresh military operation.
Osso added that troops opened fire early Thursday in the outskirts of Maaret al-Numan, a town of 100,000 on the highway linking Damascus with Syria’s second-largest city, Aleppo. No casualties were reported.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of tanks, armored personnel carriers and buses used to transport anti-terrorism forces were deploying around the town of Khan Sheikhon south of Maaret al-Numan.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has unleashed the military to crush a popular uprising against his authoritarian rule. Human rights activists say more than 1,400 Syrians have been killed since the uprising began in mid-March.
Osso said said the number of people detained daily in the area is at least 300.
The tension in the northwestern Idlib province, near the border with Turkey, has forced some 500 Syrians flee the country since Wednesday _ raising the number of people who sought refuge in Turkey to 8,900, according to Turkish authorities.
Excerpted from the Associated Press