Last updated at 10:18 AM on 7th June 2011
- State TV reports say gunmen killed 82 in single attack
- Syrian Government says its Army will intervene
More than 120 members of Syria's police and security forces were left dead after they fought gunmen in clashes with activists, it has emerged.
In what is thought to be the first report of large-scale fighting in the country's revolt, reports on Syrian state television said armed groups had set government buildings on fire in the north western town of Jisr al-Shughour.
It also said activists had stolen five tonnes of dynamite and fired at civilians and security using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
Conflict: Syrian state television has reported that 120 police and security forces have been killed by armed activists. The incident follows bloodshed on Sunday when Palestinian protestors clashed with the Israeli army at Golan Heights (pictured)
Intervention: The Syrian government is said to be sending troops into the town following the deaths. This image was taken during a separate incident in Golan Heights
The bloodshed comes after about 20 pro-Palestinian demonstrators were killed and 325 injured on Sunday when Israeli forces opened fire on them as they crossed the border from Syria into occupied territories.
One report on state television about this latest incident said: 'The security forces have managed to end a blockade of one of the neighbourhoods that was seized by the gunmen for a while and are now battling them to end the blockade of the other neighbourhoods.
'The gunmen mutilated some of the bodies and threw some into the river. The people in Jisr al-Shughour are urging the army to intervene speedily.'
Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar said authorities would respond firmly to armed attacks while Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud said army units - which had so far stayed out of the town - 'will carry out their national duty to restore security'.
Opposition activists earlier said a security operation had been under way in the town since Saturday in which they said at least 37 residents and 10 police had been killed.
Authorities have prevented most international media from operating in Syria, making it impossible to verify accounts of the violence from activists and officials.
Protests against President Bashar al-Assad have grown despite reform gestures and a continuing crackdown that has killed at least 1,100 people since the uprising broke out in mid-March.
Bloodshed: Mourners carry the coffin of a Palestinian protester who was killed when Israeli soldiers opened fire on Syria's border in a separate incident on Sunday
Uprising: Thousands of people pay tribute to those shot dead on the Syrian border on Sunday. Syria is the latest Arab country to experience a revolt
Residents said the wave of killings in Jisr al-Shughour erupted on Saturday when snipers on the roof of the main post office fired at a funeral for six protesters killed during a demonstration a day earlier.
Angry mourners set fire to the post office after the shooting, said one Jisr al-Shughour resident, a history teacher who gave his name only as Ahmad. State television said eight security members were killed when armed gunmen attacked the post office building.
It said at least 20 security members were killed in an ambush by 'armed gangs', and 82 were killed in an attack on a security post. It said the overall death toll for security forces was over 120.
A rebellion in Jisr al-Shughour in 1980 against President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, was brutally crushed with scores of deaths.
Stand off: Israeli soldiers on top of a tank near the border between Syria and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, a day after deadly clashes there
A town of 50,000 people, it lies on a road between the coastal city of Latakia and Syria's second city of Aleppo, which have seen little protests against Assad so far. The town has a Sunni Muslim majority but activists said there are Alawite and Christian villages in the area.
Rights campaigners say some deaths of soldiers or police during the uprising have been the result of the killing of security forces trying to defect or refusing to obey orders.
One activist, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: 'The story of forces defecting is not true.
'The (police and security members) were killed by gunmen during the operation, they came under fire. Some people in some areas have taken up arms.
'The situation is grave, what is happening is considered an armed rebellion. I oppose violence from whatever side it came from.'
Western powers have intensified their condemnation of Assad as the death toll has grown.
Syrian security forces killed at least 70 protesters on Friday in one of the bloodiest days since the revolt began.
The United States, the European Union and Australia have all imposed sanctions on Syria.
'BRUTAL TREATMENT OF PROTESTERS'
Jisr al-Shughour, about 12 miles from the Turkish border, has been the latest focus of Syria's military, whose nationwide crackdown on the revolt has left more than 1,200 Syrians dead, activists say.
The town was a stronghold of the country's banned Muslim Brotherhood in the 1980s. Human rights groups said at least 42 civilians have been killed there since Saturday.
Syria's government has a history of violent retaliation against dissent, including a three-week bombing campaign against the city of Hama that crushed an uprising there in 1982.
Jisr al-Shughour itself came under government shelling in 1980, when it was a stronghold of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, with a reported 70 people killed.
Amnesty International criticized Syria's 'brutal treatment of protesters' and called on the UN Security Council to condemn the killings and refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.
Phillip Luther, Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement: 'Those responsible for the brutal crackdown of pro-reform protesters must no longer be allowed to get away with murder.'
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So why isn't "Bomber Dave" targetting Syria as well as Libya? Answer, Cameron - like his posh predecessor, Blair, is a bully and a coward. Iraq, Libya - they only pick on countries they think can't fight back. Cameron and Blair are like those sneaks you used to come across at school - they'd stir things up but when it came to a fight they'd be the ones holding back holding the jackets while everyone else got knocked about.
- Myles, Glasgow, 07/6/2011 10:46
Colin, Wolverhampton: we lived in Damascus until fairly recently, my husband in Development aid. We completely agree with everything you say about Syria being the most controlled country we have ever lived. The level of docile comPliance, in the face of scrutiny and fear made a horrible atmosphere to be in. These stories are whitewash as you say and a cover for those in the elite force to murder with impunity in the eyes if the world. Up until this dreadful regime has got away with it's actions as the world looked elsewhere. Now with this Arab spring everything happening is there for all to see. How long before the whole Assad group are taken to The Hague?
- Barbara, ExPat, italy, 07/6/2011 09:38
If only it were true!!!!!!
- jock, planet earth for the moment, 07/6/2011 09:16
Justice? What goes round comes round!
- Bemused, Bedford UK, 07/6/2011 08:56
Here we see the true nature of the so called democracy activists- a naked grab for power against the legitimate government of Bashar al-Assad, who is quite right to supress this lawless banditry with all the means at his disposal.
- peter, exeter uk, 07/6/2011 08:27
Now we can understand why there was not a NO FLY ZONE imposed on Syria, they are in progress of having a Arab Spring. so they would like us to belive.
- Terry Stride, Tamworth Kingdom of Mercia, 07/6/2011 05:08
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