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Hama neighborhood has houses razed

Oct. 1, 2012 at 10:19 AM   |   Comments

HAMA, Syria, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Syrian security forces are going door-to-door in Hama telling people to leave their homes in a neighborhood that is being demolished, residents said.

One resident said bulldozers had already razed 120 buildings and were still moving about in the Mesha Alarbaeen neighborhood of Hama, a flashpoint city in the latest unrest in Syria, as it was during a revolt 30 years ago, CNN reported Monday.

The neighborhood is considered "the main gathering place" for "peaceful and militant" opponents of President Bashar Assad's government, a resident identified as Osamah told CNN Sunday.

Three decades ago, military units acting on orders from Hafez Assad -- father of the current Syrian president -- cracked down on a revolt in the Hama neighborhood. The number of casualties ranged from 3,000 to 40,000; a 1983 Amnesty International report indicated the death toll for both sides was between 10,000 and 25,000.

In June, security forces entered the Mesha Alarbaeen district and took it over, several activists said.

The forces began allowing bulldozers in the neighborhood several weeks ago, residents said. Witnesses said soldiers have been going building-to-building asking people to evacuate their homes.

"Most of the residents have left their homes. The majority of them went to neighboring areas in the province," another resident, identified as Abdallah, told CNN. "Some are still sleeping in the streets, and only a few of them remain in their homes."

Some gangs loyal to Assad have used more extreme measures to force residents to leave, CNN said, including forcing a woman to undress and stand on a tank as it went through the neighborhood.

"The government wants to deny the activists popular support through leveling Mesha Alarbaeen," Osamah said. "But this incident has only fueled more anger here."

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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