Activists Say Birthplace of Syrian Uprising Is Under Siege

By: Damien Cave and Dalal Mawad

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian activists said Monday that the southwestern city of Dara’a was under siege in what seemed to be part of an extended campaign by the Syrian government to regain control of the area, the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.

Members of the United Nations observers mission in Syria, who have left their bases in the province of Homs in Central Syria, check their departure dates in a hotel in Damascus

After shells hit a field hospital on Sunday, killing doctors and nurses, medical services and supplies were in short supply, said Kayssar Habib, a spokesman for the opposition Sham News Network in Dara’a. He and other activists also said that summary executions were now on the rise in the city.

“The regime forces are taking men out of shelters and executing them,” Mr. Habib said. “Most of them are civilians.”

House-to-house raids directed at supporters of the opposition seem to be expanding elsewhere as well. On Monday, activists circulated a video online showing the unidentified bodies of 10 people who activists said were civilians killed in the Damascus neighborhood of Al Qaboun. In the video, the bodies, including several women, appeared on a street corner, with many seemingly bearing the marks of torture.

Activists also reported heavy shelling in the province of Damascus. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group based in Britain that has a network of contacts in Syria, said several rockets hit a hospital in one Damascus suburb.

There was no way to independently confirm the activists’ reports.

On Tuesday, the Japanese government said that a Japanese journalist covering the fighting in Aleppo had been killed, The Associated Press reported. The journalist, Mika Yamamoto, who worked with the Japan Press, an independent news agency, died of wounds she suffered while reporting on the conflict, Masaru Sato, a spokesman with the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo, told The A.P.

In Aleppo, the ground battles continued Monday between the Free Syrian Army and government forces. Clashes were reported next to the military court and the headquarters of the ruling Baath Party in Al Jamiliya’s central district, bordering the city’s old quarters, according to the Syrian Observatory.

The military also dropped fliers on the city warning “loyal citizens” against hosting “terrorists,” the label the government uses for rebel fighters. Other fliers dropped on Aleppo offered safe passage for civilians wishing to cross military checkpoints, possibly an effort to persuade noncombatants to leave the city in advance of military raids.

Source: New York Times

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