Syria death toll rises, Assad sacks Hama Governor

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Damascus: Syrian forces killed 28 civilians on a day of massive anti-regime rallies and in shelling of villages in the north-western province of Idlib, human rights activists said.

State television meanwhile reported that President Bashar al-Assad sacked the governor of Hama, a day after half a million protesters flooded the central city demanding the ouster of their embattled leader.

Most of Friday`s victims were killed in the Idlib province, where all week troops backed by tanks and armoured personnel carriers have swept through villages to crush dissent against Assad`s autocratic regime.

"Sixteen people were killed" in Idlib yesterday, Ammar Qorabi, the head of the National Organisation for Human Rights, told in Nicosia on Saturday.

Three of them were women who died when the army shelled a chicken hatchery in the village of Al-Bara, Qorabi said.

Another 10 people were killed when security forces opened fire to disperse protests in several cities, including eight in the central protest hub of Homs and two in the Damascus neighbourhood of Qadam.

One person was reported killed in Syria`s second- largest city Aleppo and another in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia.

A previous death toll provided by other activists last night gave a figure of 11 civilians dead, including a 50-year- old mother and her 20-year-old daughter killed in Al-Bara.

Waves of protesters flooded the streets nationwide yesterday to demand the overthrow of the regime, with varying reports putting the turnout in the central city of Hama alone at more than half a million.

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