Middle East News
Six dead in Syria, as Syrian state websites hacked
Sep 26, 2011, 14:24 GMT
Damascus/Beirut - At least six people were killed on Monday in a crackdown carried out by the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad, hours after government websites were hacked by an opposition group.
'At least five people were killed in Hama ... when Syrian security forces entered the town of Hilfaya and started shooting randomly at the houses and buildings in the area,' activists based in Lebanon said.
They added that tanks pounded the al Rastan area in the province of Homs killing one person and injuring at least five other people in Homs.
Activists told the German Press Agency dpa that the tanks were targeting their heavy fire on a main highway in the area of al-Rastan which leads to Turkey.
They added that more than 50 tanks are positioned near al-Rastan area and communications in the town were cut.
Earlier, Syrian troops massed around several villages and the Douma suburb of Damascus.
They said military reinforcements had also been sent to Qusseir, a town on the border with Lebanon.
The army has been strengthening its presence in Qusseir since Saturday after civilians had attempted to flee into Lebanon. Some 5,000 Syrian refugees have fled since the uprising started.
An activist based in Damascus told dpa by phone that the regime is now deploying tanks and army personnel in towns and villages which border Turkey and Lebanon to prevent Syrian activists and civilians from fleeing the country.
Foreign journalists are barred from Syria, and activists are increasingly in fear of giving their names in case of reprisal from the regime - which has so far killed an estimated 2,700 people in their crackdown on pro-democracy protesters since mid-March.
Syrian authorities have said 700 police and army have been killed during the unrest which they blame on 'terrorists' and 'mutineers'.
Syria's brutal crackdown protests has sparked international outcry especially from neighbouring Turkey, once among Assad's main supporters.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told CNN in an interview broadcast on Sunday that al-Assad will be ousted 'sooner or later' by his own people.
'You can never remain in power through cruelty. You can never stand before the will of the people,' Erdogan said.
Despite the continued crackdown, a new opposition group called the Anonymous Operation Syria, hacked some official websites of several state institutions on Monday.
The homepages were replaced by an interactive map of Syria showing data of those killed in the government's crackdown since mid-March.
The targeted sites were based in the cities of Homs, Aleppo, Latakia, Damascus, Tartous, Deir Ezzor and Palmyra.
The hacked versions of the webpages included a link to a site advising activists on how to maintain anonymity on the internet in order to evade government tracking.