International

New Syrian Deaths And Looming Military Crackdown

As many as 30 people may have died in Homs, Syria over the weekend. The AP cites one Syrian dissident group that says initially three victims died in apparent sectarian violence - a troubling new development in the mostly secular uprising against the rule of Syrian leader Bashir al-Assad. The victims, like Assad, were said to be from Syria's minority Alawite sect, affiliated with Sunni Islam, and members are considered part of Syria's ruling class.

The report cites another Syrian activist who suggested the toll may be lower. The three slayings apparently triggered speedy retaliation in Homs, as six more people from different sects were then murdered. Then, armed Syrian government supporters opened fire in Sunni neighborhoods in apparent attacks of terror and vengeance.

At the same time, Al Arabiya and Voice of America report more Syrian troops are massing the town of al-Boukamal, near the Iraqi border, populated with Sunni residents who oppose Assad. The VOA reports Syrian troops killed five townspeople over the weekend, including a teenage boy, and thousands of angry residents surged into the streets. Dozens of Syrian troops defected to join them. Now the town is reportedly surrounded by hundreds of Syrian troops and tanks. Al Arabiya cites Syrian government newspapers that say the situation in Al Boukkamal is "explosive" so the army will "intervene".

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