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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:38 ( 1:38 GMT )
Syrian Attacks Latakia from the Sea to Crush Protests
14/08/2011 14:11:00
On the second day of a military assault to crush protests, the Syrian navy shelled two densely populated residential districts of the main Mediterranean port city of Latakia in Syria on Sunday, residents and rights campaigners said.

One witness told Reuters> Sunday morning that the navy was firing its guns on the neighbourhoods of al-Raml al-Filistini and al-Shaab, where, three months ago tanks and armoured vehicles had been deployed to crush dissent against President Bashar al-Assad.

The residents said that Ttank fire killed at least eight people in Latakia on Sunday, bringing the total killed since the beginning of the assault on Saturday to 10. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine civilians were killed and 25 wounded on Sunday.

Demonstrations against Assad during the five-month uprising against his autocratic rule have been biggest in Sunni neighbourhoods of Latakia, including Salibiya in the centre of the city and Raml al-Filistini and al-Shaab on the southern shore, where troops and tanks have been besieging the two neighbourhoods for months.

In March, leading Syrian opposition and civic figures, including Aref Dalila, a prominent economist from Latakia, issued a declaration denouncing sectarianism and committing to non-violent democratic change in the wake of disturbances involving an Alawite militia loyal to Assad, known as 'shabbiha'.

Dalila, an Alawite, has repeatedly warned against Latakia being used by the authorities to whip up sectarian fears among Alawites of a backlash against them if they lose power, instead of concentrating on transforming Syria into a democracy where all sects would enjoy equal treatment under a new constitution.
 
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