Skip to main content

Tanks block access to western Syrian city, activist says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:25 PM EDT, Mon September 26, 2011
A Syrian military tank takes position in the city of Homs on August 30, 2011 (file photo).
A Syrian military tank takes position in the city of Homs on August 30, 2011 (file photo).
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Syria's foreign minister blames "foreign incitement" for anti-government protests
  • Tanks move in to cut off parts of a city in troubled Homs province, activist claims
  • Tanks are surrounding the hospital in Al-Rastan, the activist says
  • State media reports discovery of weapons, ammunition and bomb materials in Homs and Daraa

(CNN) -- The sound of heavy weapons and machine gun fire echoed through the night in the restive city of Al-Rastan after a large number of tanks moved in to block key roads and areas of town, an opposition activist said Monday.

"Several tanks have been in place since May at each of the entrances of the city, but Sunday a great number of tanks began blocking the agriculture parts of the town and the surrounding villages and even took positions inside Rastan," said the activist, a member of the opposition Local Coordinating Committees who could not be identified because of security concerns.

Elsewhere in Syria, security forces captured and killed two activists in Qosair, a town in Homs province, according to the Local Coordinating Committees, the activist group that has been organizing anti-government protests.

Students also continued their protests against the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, chanting, "No teaching, no learning until the fall of the regime" in Homs, Daraa and Damascus provinces.

In Al-Rastan, more than 50 tanks were in and around the city in the northwestern part of Homs province, said the activist, whose claims could not be independently verified.

The inflow of security forces means opposition groups are having trouble treating their wounded, the opposition activist told CNN.

"We have a major problem now that even though Rastan has one of the largest hospitals in Homs province we are unable to take our wounded out of fear of retaliation by security forces. Currently five to six tanks surround the hospital and we believe they may detain the wounded," the activist said.

People are scared to go to work in the area's industrial port because it has been surrounded by tanks and "just this week a young man was shot and killed by security forces," the activist said.

The Syrian government has been battling opposition activists for months in what the government calls a campaign against terrorists. At the United Nations, Foreign Minister Walid Moallem blamed "foreign incitement" for the troubles, which he said were fueled by U.S. and European sanctions.

"This course cannot in any way be reconciled with pronouncements about concern for the interests, security and rights of the Syrian people," Moallem told the General Assembly. "It further runs counter to the basic principles of human rights in defense of which these states base their interference in our internal affairs."

He said Syria had been "a model of peaceful co-existence" among its people's religious and ethnic groups, and that disturbing that peace was aimed at "spreading Western hegemony over the countries of the Mediterranean and serving Israel's expansionist interests."

On Monday, the state-run news agency SANA published a report citing an unnamed military source saying that authorities found Israeli weapons, explosives and stolen military uniforms in Homs and recovered weapons, ammunition detonators and other military supplies hidden in a drum and a water tank in the garden of a house in Naseeb, a city in Daraa province.

Military engineers also dismantled an explosive device next to Daraa University that could have killed more than 300 people, SANA reported.

Nearly 3,000 people have died in the government's crackdown, according to some accounts.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
updated 8:43 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
updated 8:48 AM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
updated 5:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
updated 7:41 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
updated 5:17 PM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Mon June 23, 2014
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
updated 4:25 PM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Tue June 10, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Mon June 2, 2014
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
updated 7:23 AM EDT, Tue June 3, 2014
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Thu June 5, 2014
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
updated 5:19 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What caught our experts' ears was as much about what he didn't address as much as what he did.
updated 6:19 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
The three-year war in Syria has claimed 162,402 lives, an opposition group said Monday, as the raging conflict shows no signs of abating.
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
Official: The U.S. believes a jihadi featured in a suicide bombing video in Syria is Moner Mohammad Abu-Salha who grew up in Florida.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Tue May 20, 2014
For the first time, Britain has convicted someone of a terrorism offense related to the Syrian civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT