Syrian security forces backs by army tanks killed at least 30 civilians on Tuesday in the countryside around the city of Hama and on a town near Turkey, the Syrian National Organization for Human Rights said, as Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met President Bashar Assad to press for a halt to the crackdown.
The organization, headed by dissident Ammar Qurabi, said in a statement that 26 people were killed and dozens wounded when troops backed by tanks and armored vehicles overran Soran and other villages north of Hama, the focus of a 10-day assault to crush street protests against President Assad’s autocratic rule.
Four people were also killed in Binnish, around 30 km (19 miles) from the border with Turkey, in a similar attack on the town that has witnessed an escalation in protests demanding the removal of Assad during the fasting month of Ramadan, the organization said.
Intense gunfire, meanwhile, was heard in Deir Al Zor – scene of a deadly army assault on Sunday that killed 42 people – “where a woman and a young man died of their wounds,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added, according to AFP.
It also said at least 17 people were arrested in a security swoop on the Huweika district of the city.
The latest violence comes as pressure grows on Syria with a visit from the Turkish foreign minister, bearing the message that Ankara “has run out of patience” with the deadly crackdown on anti-regime protests.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to press Syria to “return its military to the barracks,” while Damascus has said the minister would himself “receive a firm message” during his visit.
On their Facebook page, Syrian Revolution 2011, an engine of the uprising, activists invited Mr. Davutoglu to “come and pray in the mosque” of the capital’s Al Midan area “to find out from close up of the demands of the Syrian people.”
The visit comes after rights activists said security forces shot dead at least eight people in Deir Al Zor on Monday.
The regime's repression of Syria’s pro-democracy uprising since mid-March has killed more than 2,050 people, including almost 400 members of the security forces, according to the Syrian Observatory.
"Encouraged" and Heartened"
On Monday, Washington said that it was “encouraged” and “heartened” by a tougher stand from Arab countries toward Syria’s deadly crackdown pro-democracy protesters.
“We are very much encouraged, heartened by the strong statements that we’ve seen over the weekend by the Arab League as well as by the Gulf Cooperation Council,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
These are “further signs that the international community... is repulsed by the brutal actions of the Syrian government and is standing with the Syrian people,” he added, according to AFP.
Mr. Toner said the move was a sign that “Assad and his government are further isolating themselves from the international community through their actions.”
Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, recalled their envoys from Damascus earlier and denounced the violence, a day after the 22-member Arab League called for an end to the bloodshed.
A statement posted on a Facebook page used by protesters lauded the Arab governments for recalling their envoys.
“Arab governments stood and faced the butcher Bashar Al Assad, and stood on the side of the great Syrian people,” said a statement on the “We are all Hamza al-Khatib” page, set up in honor of a 13-year-old boy who was killed in the crackdown, according to The Associated Press.
Mrs. Clinton said last week that the United States would urge the Arabs and others to do more to press Syria to stop its deadly crackdown.
US officials say a lack of consensus has hampered international action in Syria, making it less robust than in Libya, where a NATO-led force has launched air strikes against Muammar Qaddafi’s forces crushing the opposition.