Gunfire erupts as army seals Syrian city

BEIRUT (AP) – Gunfire erupted across a key port city in northeastern Syria on Sunday after the army sealed the area off, deploying tanks and cutting communications. Human rights activists said there were fatalities.

Details were sketchy because telephone lines, Internet access and electricity apparently were cut in Banias.

Ammar Qurabi, head of Syria’s National Organization for Human Rights, quoted an eyewitness who managed to flee Banias as saying people had been killed and injured. It was not clear whether they were civilians or security forces.

Protests erupted in Syria more than three weeks ago and have been growing steadily every week, with tens of thousands of people calling for sweeping reforms in President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian regime. More than 170 people have been killed.

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