NEW: At least 14 people have been killed, an activist group says
Security forces clash with gunmen believed to be dissidents
Protests in Syria erupted seven months ago
Security forces raided a northern Syrian city amid explosions and gunfire early Thursday and casualties have been reported, activists said.
The forces clashed with gunmen believed to be dissidents in the city of Binnish in Idlib province, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, another activist group, said 14 people had been killed, including 12 in Binnish and one each in Homs and Daraa. Among those dead are at least two young children, the group said.
“Syrian military forces supported by tanks and armored personnel carriers stormed the city early this morning,” Syrian Observatory said. “Heavy machine guns and shelling have been heard around the city.”
The group said some houses were damaged and casualties have been reported.
Explosions rang out as forces pounded the city, according to the group, which said military forces also stormed the village of Taoum east of Binnish.
Oudai Al Sayed, an opposition activist, said he fled the town through olive groves to escape a Syrian military attack. He said he saw 30 tanks and an armored personnel carrier enter the town. Standing on a rooftop in a nearby town, al Sayed said he saw smoke rising from Binnish.
He said a couple of months ago, military defectors took shelter in Binnish. He said some of the defectors are fighting Syrian troops.
The LCC said security forces made arrests in Binnish and Banias.
Security forces also raided Al-Qusor in Homs province and arrested 19 people, the Syrian Observatory said. The LCC said pro-government militia members and security forces burned down the houses of an activist’s relatives in Homs after they failed to find and arrest him. They also kidnapped members of a family.
CNN cannot independently confirm events in Syria, which restricts international journalists from accessing many parts of the country.
Protests in Syria erupted seven months ago, with demonstrators demanding an end to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as well as democratic elections.
Al-Assad has been in power since 2000. His father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled Syria for three decades until his death that year.
The Syrian Observatory estimates that more than 3,100 people have died since the uprising began in mid-March. The death toll includes about 2,400 civilians, the group says.
Opposition activists have accused officials of killing protesters, but the government has said it is going after armed groups.