Hundreds of Syrians killed in holy month
AT least 473 Syrians have been killed during protests against the Assad regime during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, human rights campaigners said yesterday.
The death toll of 360 civilians included 25 children and 14 women, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It added that 113 members of government forces were also killed during the month, which has just ended.
In all, more than 2,200 Syrians have been killed since the start of a brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in March by President Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled the country for 40 years.
The latest figures were disclosed as soldiers backed by tanks raided houses in Homs, Hama and Houla in central Syria, and made arrests while looking for anti-government protesters.
Regime forces also threatened the relations of activists with arrests unless they turned themselves in. Dozens of Syrians have died in custody since protests began.
Amnesty International has said that at least 10 children died recently in detention centres where inmates suffered beatings, burns, electric shocks and mutilation.
The victims, some as young as 13, were among 88 deaths in custody over the past three months, the group said.
Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, called President Assad's actions "irreparable", telling French diplomats that France would do whatever was "legally" within its power to ensure a victory for the pro-democracy movement.
A diplomatic row over how to deal with Syria intensified at the UN in New York, where Russia and China are attempting to derail a western plan for fresh sanctions.
A draft Security Council resolution from Britain, the US, France, Germany and Portugal, calling for tougher penalties on Mr Assad and his circle, was submitted at the end of last week.
A rival eastern plan was submitted on the same day. It has been dismissed by Britain as being weaker than an existing statement issued by the Security Council last month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)