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Syrian Forces Encircle Hama

An image grab taken from footage uploaded on YouTube shows hundreds of thousands of Syrian antigovernment protesters flooding the streets of the central city of Hama on July 1.
Residents and activists in Hama say government tanks and troops have surrounded the Syrian city, the latest flashpoint for growing violence between antigovernment protesters and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

The government's assault comes a week after over 100,000 people rallied in Hama demanding an end to Assad's rule. The demonstration was one of the largest in the country's 14-week uprising.

Activists on July 4 said Syrian troops arrested hundreds of people in the city with at least three people reported killed, including a 13-year-old boy.

Ramid Abdelrahman, president of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters that 250 people had been arrested in Hama neighborhoods.

Reports say hundreds of youths have used garbage containers and other material to obstruct roads leading to the city's central residential neighborhoods in an effort to block government troops.

Rights groups say at least 1,300 civilians have died in the unrest. Syrian authorities say 500 police and soldiers have been killed by gunmen who officials blame for most of the violence.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Assad over the crackdown.

compiled from Reuters reports