DAMASCUS, Syria, July 31 (UPI) — The Syrian army moved into Hama and other rebellious cities Sunday, and at least 75 people are dead, witnesses and activists said.
“Massacres, massacres are taking place here. History is repeating itself. It is repeating itself,” opposition activist Obada Arwany told The New York Times from Hama, where President Bashar Assad’s father, Hafez, carried out a notorious slaughter in 1982.
“It is a last-minute attempt by the regime to reclaim cities that it lost control of, even by force,” before the holy month of Ramadan begins, said Omar Idlibi of the Local Coordination Committee, which helps organize and document the uprising.
Opposition sources reported at least 49 killed Sunday in Hama, 13 in Deir al-Zour and more elsewhere, but some estimates ranged much higher.
Hama residents told the BBC troops began entering the city at dawn and described unarmed civilians facing tanks at barricades.
“Hama will be very harsh to them … the whole city has decided to resist with stones, not weapons. The army will either join demonstrators or leave our city,” Omar al Habbai of the Local Coordination Committee told CNN.
Sham, a pro-opposition Web site, said some soldiers had deserted and embraced protesters in Hama, where the regime ceded control in June.
Since the mass protests against Assad began in March, some 1,500 civilians and 350 members of the security forces have been killed. More than 12,600 people have been arrested and 3,000 civilians are listed as missing.