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Syria: Tanks, warships kill 24 people in military assault on Latakia port city

Syrian warships on Sunday joined a broad military attack on anti-government protesters in the port city of Latakia, activists say.

Syria latakia 2011 08 14 11Enlarge
Syrian soldiers shout pro-Syrian President Bashar Assad slogans as they sit in the back of an army lorry on August 10, 2011, as they withdrawing from the city of Hama after a 10-day military operation to quell pro-democracy protests. This photo was taken on a guided government tour. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Syrian warships have joined a military attack on protesters in the port city of Latakia that has killed 24 people, according to activists and human rights groups.

At least two gunboats were said to be taking part in the Latakia operation alongside 20 tanks and personnel carriers, the BBC reports. Areas of the Sunni-majority city that have seen major protests against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad were reportedly being targeted.

Reuters reports that 24 people were killed in the violence Sunday.

Activists say that some 2,000 people have died in Syria in the six-month uprising. The death toll in Syria has escalated in the first half of the holy month of Ramadan, the Guardian says.

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"I can see the silhouettes of two grey [naval] vessels. They are firing their guns and the impact is landing on al-Ramleh, al-Filistini and al-Shaab neighborhoods," a witness told Reuters.

Residents told the Guardian that machine guns were fired from at least one ship, and from several armored vehicles.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 32 civilians were killed and dozens more wounded Sunday.

International journalists face major restrictions in operating in Syria, and it is hard to independently verify reports.

Amateur video footage posted on YouTube showed what appeared to be armored personnel in the streets of Latakia.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/110814/syria-protests-news-latakia-port-shelling