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Syria: Rising Toll in Homs
 
Human Rights Watch
2 July 2011
 
(…) Government security forces and their allies have killed at least 21 people in Homs since June 17, 2011, as they crack down on Syria's third-largest city, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces and pro-government armed groups, known locally asshabeeha, shot and killed at least three protesters on July 1, witnesses and local human rights groups told Human Rights Watch.

During the city's ongoing protests, security forces have beaten protesters with clubs, vandalized private property, and broken into homes where they suspected protesters had sought refuge. Security forces dressed in civilian clothes have detained protesters repeatedly, often travelling in taxis to approach and detain people. (…)

(…) The Syrian government should immediately halt the excessive use of force by security forces and free everyone detained for exercising their rights to free expression and association, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch spoke to seven witnesses who witnessed the security forces' most recent crackdown in Homs, including a doctor at al-Barr hospital who treated some of the wounded. Syria's authorities restrict access to Syria to human rights groups, forcing Human Rights Watch to collect information by phone or by speaking to Syrian refugees who cross into neighboring countries. (…)

(…) Since protests erupted in Syria in mid-March, Human Rights Watch has also documented numerous instances of torture in detention throughout the country, which in some cases may have led to the detainees' deaths. (…)

(…) Anti-government protests in Homs have been ongoing since late March. After security forces violently dispersed an all-night peaceful sit-in in the city center at New Clock Tower Square (Sahat al-Sa`a) on April 19, killing at least 17 protesters, demonstrators have mostly gathered in neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. (…)
 
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