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Syrian forces backed by tanks and helicopters stormed a town on the main highway to Turkey today.

Residents said the military had entered al-Rastan, a town of 40,000 located between the cities of Homs and Hama, after pounding it overnight with heavy machine guns.

The German dpa news agency quoted activists as saying at least four people were killed in the violence.

The region has emerged as a center of an armed resistance to the rule of President Bashar al-Assad after six months of street protests.

The United Nations says an estimated 2,700 people have been killed during the regime's crackdown on the protesters.

In a speech at the United Nations on September 26, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said that external forces were to blame for the violence and for causing delays in al-Assad's plans for democratic reforms.

compiled from agency reports
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