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Syrian Security Forces Killed 30 People Yesterday, Activists Say

Syria security forces killed 30 people yesterday, including three women, a child and two soldiers who had defected, the opposition’s Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement.

Gunmen shot and killed Abbas El-Lahham, a Shiite cleric, outside the Sayyida Ruqqayya Mosque in Damascus, the Observatory for Human Rights in Syria said in a separate e-mailed statement.

The two groups said Syrian troops pounded Homs, Hama and Daraa with mortars and shells, while heavy gunfire was reported in the suburbs of Damascus and Deir Ezzor yesterday.

From the start of the uprising, President Bashar al-Assad’s government has blamed the unrest on Islamic extremists with foreign backing -- which has been disputed by the U.S. as a false justification for the government to use military force against civilians.

The United Nations estimates more than 9,000 people have been killed since the uprising began. Violence persists even after the UN sent a team of monitors to the country and pledged to send more. The observers aim to calm the fighting so that talks can begin on implementing a peace plan drafted by envoy Kofi Annan.

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