Syrian Tanks Storm Resistance Center of Hama

Military moves into the center of a city at the fore of anti-government activism

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Syrian tanks and soldiers have started pushing into central Hama after days of shelling, as President Bashar al-Assad appears to be making a final push to put down the center of opposition to his government. The city is "a historically important center of anti-government resistance in Syria and an incubator of the nearly five-month uprising against Mr. Assad," The New York Times reported, and activists there are now reporting "nearly continuous gunfire in the early hours of the day," leading to heavy casualties. According to the BBC, "Human rights groups say at least 140 people have been killed in the Syrian unrest since Sunday, mainly in Hama, adding to a civilian death toll believed to be more than 1,600 since March." The latest violence comes amid international condemnation, reports said, but so far, an official foreign response has been slow to come. "The UN Security Council is split over how to respond to the bloodshed, which the UN secretary general has condemned," the BBC reported. The Times had strong comments from Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Arinc Bulent, who said, "what’s going on in Hama today is an atrocity." Meanwhile, a Hama resident told Reuters over the phone that this was the military's endgame. "The regime is using the media focus on the Hosni Mubarak trial [which opened in Egypt on Wednesday] to finish off Hama."

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