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Syrian Troops Crack Down On Protesters

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 5 (UPI) — Syrian troops cracked down on countrywide protests against President Bashar Assad Monday, killing at least five people, activists and residents said.

The New York Times reported the Local Coordination Committees, a group that organizes and tracks the protests, said three people were killed in Homs, one in the eastern town of Tal Khalakh on the Lebanese-Syrian border and another in the northern province of Idlib.

Another person was fatally shot by forces loyal to the government as he tried to cross the border in northern Syria to Turkey, activists said.

The Times said Jakob Kellenberger, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, was preparing Monday to meet with Assad in Damascus in hopes of gaining committee access to thousands of detainees held since the protests began in mid-March.

“The ICRC visits detainees in order to assess the conditions in which they are being held and the treatment they receive,” the committee said in a statement Saturday.

Kellenberger also will ask about gaining more access to areas where protests are occurring, the Times said.

“Ensuring that the sick and the wounded have access to medical care will be among the particularly urgent humanitarian challenges to be addressed with the Syrian authorities,” the committee said.

At least 2,200 people had been killed since the protests started, the United Nations said in a report last month.

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