Syrian State News Depicts Hama as Ghost Town Under Regime Control

Activist claim security forces are brutally besieging the city

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As Syrian security forces lay siege to Hama for a sixth straight day and thousands of demonstrators march across Syria in the first Friday protests of Ramadan, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency has released grainy but revealing photos from Thursday of Hama's deserted, rubble-strewn streets to emphasize that Syrian security forces had overpowered "armed terrorist groups"--a narrative that contradicts activists' account of events. The BBC's Jim Muir, who captures the footage of Hama now airing on Syrian state television, says Syrian TV is also showing pictures of  burnt-out government buildings and armed men hiding behind cars. He notes that while activists claim the regime is brutally bombarding the city, killing over 100 people since Sunday, they also admit that some young men in Hama seized weapons after burning police stations. The pictures released by SANA are above and below:

The images of Hama as a ghost town square with what journalists heard from Hama residents on Thursday, though these sources spoke of tank shelling, sniper fire, and siege conditions rather than an armed rebellion. CNN's Arwa Damon, who, like many other journalists, had trouble getting in touch with anyone in the city, tweeted that one resident had to "slink along walls" to avoid snipers and "saw corpses in street." Al Jazeera's Rula Amin added that all shops, banks, government offices were shut down, according to activists, as was water and mobile and landline services. On Wednesday, footage uploaded to YouTube appeared to show tanks traversing silent streets:

Contrast these images with this footage from Hama of a massive protest in a central square on Friday, July 1, after security forces had withdrawn from the city:

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.