Syrian security forces shot dead at least 11 people, including a child aged seven, in a swoop on the town of Kanaker near Damascus early Wednesday, a human rights activist said.
“The security forces raided homes at dawn on Wednesday and during the operation 11 people were shot dead and more than 250 arrested,” said Ammar Qurabi, head of the National Organization for Human Rights, reached by telephone from Nicosia.
Mr. Qurabi provided AFP with the names of the victims.
He said the operation in Kanaker, a town of 25,000 people, was backed by “a bulldozer and army tanks” and targeted people aged between 15 and 40.
He added that at least 11 vehicles were used to carry away those arrested in the swoop.
According to Mr. Qurabi, the raid was an “act of vengeance” because inhabitants had supplied provisions to anti-regime protesters in the southern city of Daraa, the main hub of protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s hardline rule, when it was besieged by troops earlier this year.
The authorities have used deadly force to quell dissent, with at least 1,486 civilians reported killed since the uprising began mid-March, thousands arrested and thousands more fleeing the country, human rights groups say.
Some rights groups say at least 12,000 people have been detained since the anti-regime protests erupted, but it is unclear how many are still being held and how many have been released.