Crackdown Escalates: Syrian Ships Shell Latakia

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The Syrian regime is expanding its attacks on anti-government protesters.

Activists say at least 25 people were gunned down Sunday in the Mediterranean city of Latakia. Syrian troops backed by gunboats continued the government's brutal crackdown in that coastal city.

Syrian naval forces shelled the city while ground troops opened fire in residential neighborhoods, according to eyewitnesses.

"People are trying to flee, but they cannot leave Latakia because it is besieged," one eyewitness told Reuters. "The best they can do is to move from one area to another within the city."

SANA, Syria's state-run news agency, reported that troops were protecting Latakia's residences from armed men who assaulted citizens and vandalized property.

According to the report, "order preservation forces pursued armed men who were terrorizing residents...and using machine guns and explosives from rooftops and from behind barricades." Two policemen and four "unidentified armed men" were killed in the fighting, according to the report.  

Human rights groups say Syrian troops have killed at least 1,700 people since March.

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