8:16am

Mon August 1, 2011
The Two-Way

142 People Are Dead, As Government Crackdown Continues In Syria

The government of Syrian President Bashar Assad continued its bloody offensive against protesters today. On Sunday, government forces shelled the city of Hama and human rights groups said there were as many as 142 people dead.

Al Jazeera reports that the people of Deir ex-Zor, who were protesting the attack on Hama, found themselves under fire this morning:

A witness in Deir ez-Zor told Al Jazeera that government forces launched fresh attacks on the town early on Monday morning.

"Military forces stormed the city from the west side and 25 people are killed and more than 65 injured," the witness said.

"Artillery and anti-aircraft weapons are being used. The situation in the city is very bad, and medical and food supplies are low."

Deir ez-Zor, Syria's main gas and oil-production hub in the east, has become a rallying point for protests along with Hama.

This al Jazeera video report has some dramatic video from this morning's attack:

Yesterday, President Obama issued a statement on the situation in Syria.

"I am appalled by the Syrian government's use of violence and brutality against its own people," the president said. "The reports out of Hama are horrifying and demonstrate the true character of the Syrian regime. Once again, President Assad has shown that he is completely incapable and unwilling to respond to the legitimate grievances of the Syrian people."

President Obama added that the U.S. would continue to add pressure on the regime and "stand with the Syrian people."

In an interview with the BBC, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague went further. He said England would like to see "additional sanctions" and said seeking military action against Syria in the United Nations is "not a remote possibility."

Update at 10:57 a.m. ET. U.N. Security Council Meeting:

The United Nations Security Council will meet at 5 p.m. today to discuss the situation in Syria. Bloomberg reports that Germany called for a "clear condemnation" of Syrian president Assad's actions.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.