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Syria Tightens Security On 30th Anniversary Of Hama Massacre


A man points to pictures of people allegedly killed during the 1982 Hama massacre on a Facebook page titled "Hama."
Opposition activists in Syria say government troops deployed in flashpoint areas across the country on February 2 to prevent protests marking the 30th anniversary of a massacre in the central province of Hama.

Activists say security forces made numerous arrests and reinforced their presence in Hama, where 10,000 to 40,000 people were killed in a monthlong crackdown that began on February 2, 1982.

A general strike was called in Hama for February 2 to remember the bloody crackdown against an Islamist uprising that challenged the rule of then-President Hafez al-Assad, father of current President Bashar al-Assad.

Demonstrations were also called elsewhere in Syria to mark the anniversary of the 1982 purge and to protest the government's current crackdown on demonstrators, which is estimated to have killed more than 6,000 people.

Meanwhile, UN Security Council talks on a draft resolution aimed at halting Assad's deadly crackdown appeared deadlocked because of Russian opposition to any resolution condemning the Syrian regime.

The current draft -- which calls for Assad to step down -- was drawn up by the Arab League after its monitors in Syria reported they had watched with their "own eyes" government snipers shooting dead peaceful demonstrators during a protest march.

The Arab League also is concerned about a government assault by tanks and thousands of soldiers in the eastern suburbs of Damascus that reportedly has killed hundreds and led to hundreds more arrests.

Despite calls from governments and rights groups around the world for the international community to take action to bring an end to the government crackdown, Russia's Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on February 2 that Moscow will not stop selling weapons to Assad's regime.

The Syrian government is one of Russia's top arms customers. Assad's regime also has a deal with Moscow that allows Russia to lease facilities for a nuclear fleet at a naval base on Syria's Mediterranean sea coast.

Noting massive Syrian weapons purchases from Moscow, Amnesty International's UN representative Jose Luis Diaz said: "Russia bears a heavy responsibility for allowing the brutal crackdown on legitimate dissent in Syria to continue unchecked."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says she will discuss the draft resolution on Syria with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference this weekend.

Compiled from agency reports

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