Syria Cracks Down on Protesters before Ramadan

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The government in Syria is escalating its crackdown on protesters, hoping to crush dissent right before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In a second day of violence, the flash point city of Hama came under assault Monday by Syrian troops.

While several cities were targeted in the bloody weekend crackdown, Hama appears to have suffered the worst carnage.

"It looks like Beirut," Hama resident Saleh Abu Yaman told the Associated Press, likening the city to Lebanese capital that still bears the battle scars of almost 20 years of civil war.

The attacks, which began before dawn Sunday, have left dozens of people dead.
         
Despite the deadly weekend siege, protesters remained defiant, calling for a protest of the killings. 

"If you don't unchain yourselves now and save your country now, you will be ruled like slaves for years and decades to come," said the Local Coordination Committees, which helps organize anti-government protests. 

Meanwhile, the crackdown is being condemned by the international community.

"President Bashar (Assad) is mistaken if he believes that oppression and military force will end the crisis in his country. He should stop this assault on his own people now," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

President Obama called the violence "shocking," adding that Syrian President Assad was "completely incapable and unwilling" to respond to the legitimate complaints of the Syrian people.
     
Since the uprising began in March, Hama has been one of the hottest centers of anti-government protest, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets every week.

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