Boy, 12, killed to ‘punish parents’ as gunfire and shelling in Syria continues against protesters.


A 12-year-old boy has been killed in a Syrian city today as gunfire and shelling erupted in the central Syrian city of Homs.

Over the last seven weeks, the city has become a flashpoint in the widespread uprising against President Bashar Assad‘s dictatorship.

It is not clear which side of the struggle killed the boy, but Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said: ‘It appears to be designed to punish his parents.’

He said that water, electricity and most forms of communications to the coastal city of Banias had been cut since troops in tanks and armoured vehicles rolled in and sealed the city off on Saturday.

Banias has been another protest hotbed where more than 200 people have been arrested including a 10-year-old boy.

One activist, who declined to be named out of fear of reprisal, said the death toll in the city had risen to six.

The national uprising has posed the most serious challenge to the 40-year rule of the Assads.

Bashar, who inherited power from his father in 2000, has launched a violent campaign against protesting Syrians aimed at crushing the revolt despite international condemnation.

An estimated 580 civilians and 100 soldiers have been killed in the revolt.

In the southern city of Daraa, the scene of a large-scale military operation, around 50 residents were killed in an 11-day siege.

The Syrian official news agency handed out this image today, allegedly showing a damaged room at the radio and TV building which it says was attacked a day earlier

Foreign media has been banned from the country and there is restricted access to many parts of the country making it difficult to confirm witness accounts.

The city of Homs, like several other towns, is sealed off by tanks and soldiers, cut off from the outside world.

The uprising started in mid-March following the arrest of teenagers who had written anti-regime graffiti on a wall in Daraa.

Protests spread quickly across the nation of 23million people, inspired by uprisings sweeping the Arab world.

Banias has a large power station and is one of the country’s two oil refineries and is the main point of export for Syrian oil.

It is predominantly Sunni Muslim but is also home to many Alawites – the sect of the Assad family and many senior officials.

Syrian officials and state-run media have tried to portray Banias as a hotbed of Islamic extremists to justify the crackdown.

The state news agency SANA said the army and security forces were pursuing fugitives in Banias and were able to arrest a large number of them and confiscate their weapons.

On Sunday, SANA said Syrian authorities have seized sophisticated weapons and that the army is still hunting down ‘armed terrorist groups’ across the country, including in Banias.

The U.S. has imposed sanctions on three top Syrian officials as well as Syria’s intelligence agency and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard over the crackdown.

The European Union is expected to place sanctions on Syrian officials soon, and the U.N. said Saturday it is sending a team into Syria to investigate the situation.

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