At Least 16 Killed as Syrian Troops Launch New Crackdowns

Gunboats Shell Deir Azzour as Tanks Attack Near Homs

Violent crackdowns against pro-democracy demonstrations continued across Syria today, with forces moving their focus on the city of Deir Azzour and areas around the outskirts of Homs, with at least 16 people reported slain nationwide.

The attacks on Deir Azzour port included shelling from naval gunboats, while armed military vehicles attacked the town. Al-Rastan, near Homs, was attacked by tanks, with Syrian state media claiming 11 soldiers were slain by “terrorists” in the area.

Perhaps the most widely covered violence of the day was not a killing, however, as a pre-dawn attack on a political cartoonist saw security forces kidnap him and savagely beat him. Both of the cartoonist’s hands were broken, apparently in revenge for anti-Assad cartoons in recent days.

For the regime, the constant changes of focus against new cities and the violence against dissidents is seemingly an end unto itself, as despite carrying on that same strategy for five months and watching as opposition to the regime both at home and abroad continues to soar.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of