Syrian residents of Shagara hold up images of President Bashar al-Assad during a pro-regime rally
Syrian residents of Shagara and surrounding villages hold up images of President Bashar al-Assad during a pro-regime march. Syrian troops have swept through the central city of Homs, arresting "armed men" and confiscating "stockpiles of weapons," the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said. © - AFP/SANA
Syrian residents of Shagara hold up images of President Bashar al-Assad during a pro-regime rally
AFP
Last updated: July 21, 2011

Syrian forces seizes men and weapons in Homs

Syrian troops swept through the central city of Homs, arresting "armed men" and confiscating "stockpiles of weapons," the pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said on Wednesday.

"An uneasy calm has reigned in Homs since Tuesday afternoon after top quality operations by the army, who arrested a number of armed men and seized large quantities of weapons," it said, adding there were "bloody clashes" that left "soldiers and an officer wounded."

Al-Watan added that the "dialogue launched by civic leaders had resumed in a bid to contain dissent and re-establish unity," in Homs, 160 kilometres (100 miles) north of the capital Damascus.

Activists say pro-regime gunmen have killed at least 20 people Homs since Monday, including seven mourners at a funeral.

Fierce fighting rocked Homs at the weekend, with activists reporting more than 30 people killed in clashes between Christians, Sunni Muslims and Alawites from President Bashar al-Assad's minority community.

Syria's third largest city, Homs has spearheaded demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime since protests erupted on March 15.

The army had already entered the city in May in a bid to stop rallies calling for the fall of Assad's regime.

Meanwhile, security services arrested opposition figure Georges Sabra and a lawyer, the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights said on Wednesday.

"At 2:00 am, security forces stormed the home of Georges Sabra, head of the Syrian Democratic People's Party, in Qatana," west of Damascus, Abdel Karim Rihawi said.

"He was driven to an unknown location," he added.

Sabra had already been arrested on April 10 and detained for one month.

His party is associated with the 2005 Damascus Declaration for Democratic National Change, an opposition movement calling for democratic reforms in Syria.

In Aleppo, Syria's second city, security forces arrested lawyer Jamal Tahan in his home. Tahan is well-known critic of the regime, the rights group said.

Activists say the government's crackdown on pro-democracy and anti-regime protests has left more than 1,400 civilians dead. Thousands more have been jailed.

Syrian authorities have restricted foreign media access to the country since the start of unrest making it difficult to verify official and opposition accounts.

Syrian state television on Wednesday showed footage of pro-regime demonstrators carrying a massive flag down the streets of Suweida, a city south of Damascus.

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