Middle East News
LEAD: Nine killed in Syria as military carries out raids
Nov 29, 2011, 19:28 GMT
Beirut - At least nine people were killed in Syria in the ongoing government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, a rights group and activists said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that three civilians were killed by security forces in the central province of Homs and the northern Idlib.
Three people were killed troops backed by tanks in besieged the city of Rankous near Damascus opened fire, the London-based group reported.
Troops arrested around 20 people in the city, a Lebanon-based Syrian activist said.
'All entrances to the city are now closed and soldiers are carrying out house-to-house searches under heavy machine gun fire in search of army defectors, whom they believe are hiding in the area,' Omar Idlibi, a Lebanon-based activist told dpa.
Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian news agency SANA said three 'armed terrorists' in the central city of Homs - which has been at the heart of anti-government protests - and confiscated weapons including grenades and sniper rifles as well as communication devices.
The government has blamed the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, which began in mid-March, on armed gangs financed by Arab and Western countries.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday called on its citizens to leave Syria and avoid travelling there.
'Due to the security situation, Saudi Arabia urges its citizens to leave Syria and not travel there,' the Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by Saudi Press News Agency.
Other Gulf state countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have issues similar appeals in the last two weeks.
The 22-member Arab League had agreed to halt transactions with the Syrian central bank, freeze government assets and suspend investments in the country after al-Assad's regime ignored a deadline to implement a peace plan.
More than 3,500 people have been killed since March, according to UN estimates.
The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva also accused Syria of numerous crimes against humanity in its crackdown on the eight-month campaign of protests.