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Hama Residents Say Syrian Troops Tightening Their Siege

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Reports from Syria say tanks and troops are continuing their assault on the city of Hama, which has been a focus of protests against President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Residents said Hama came under heavy shelling today and, according to some reports, tanks have occupied the main square in the city center.

Syrian troops have tightened their siege on Hama since July 31 and killed scores of civilians.

Some 1,700 people have been killed since the antigovernment protests began five months ago, according to rights groups.

The latest crackdown in Hama has drawn strong international condemnation.

The European Union expanded its sanctions on Syrian officials and Italy recalled its ambassador in Syria for consultations, citing the regime's "horrible repression against the civilian population."

The United Nations Security Council is meeting today to discuss its response to the violence. The council was unable to agree on a resolution on August 2 as divisions remain on the wording of any condemnation of Assad's regime.

compiled from agency reports