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News Wrap: Syrian Troops Continue Crackdown, Kill Nearly 100 People

August 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
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HARI SREENIVASAN: U.S. auto sales managed a small increase in July, but they were well below the strong levels at the start of the year. Among the Detroit three, Chrysler led the way in July. Its business was up 20 percent from a year ago. General Motors was up eight percent, and Ford’s sales rose six percent.

There was no relief today in Syria’s crackdown on anti-government protests in the city of Hama. Activists reported Syrian troops and tanks were moving deeper into the city, forcing people to flee the area.

We have a report narrated by Jonathan Miller of Independent Television News.

MAN: Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to our news for today.

Armed terrorist groups in the city of Hama commit horrific crimes and take control of rooftops in public buildings to terrorize residents.

JONATHAN MILLER: All day, Syrian state television has been playing these pictures of what it claims are the armed terrorist groups blamed by the regime for most of the killings in this four-month-long revolt, which has left 500 soldiers and security personnel dead, they claim.

Acres of unverifiable video uploaded to social media websites tell a different story of how 1,700 civilians have ended up dead, with 3,000 missing and 12,000 imprisoned. As guerrilla cameramen capture pictures of hundreds of soldiers and a huge column of tanks moving into the rest of northern province Idlib, more snatched footage from a rooftop in the far eastern city of Dayr az Zawr, under military siege for a month now.

We spoke to a resident, today. It’s a ghost town, he says. They’re expecting the army to storm the place any time now. And that’s exactly what happened in the city of Hama, where today they were still burying yesterday’s dead and some of the 80 killed in the Ramadan massacre. They can’t get to the graveyard. This is a children’s playground.

The crackdown in Hama is still going on today, five more reported killed, 36 injured. But resistance is hardening in tandem with the regime’s resolve. State TV broadcast grim pictures today of a pickup loaded with bloody bodies of what it said were soldiers killed by armed terrorist gangs. They were dumped, one after the other, into a river.

Opposition sources described the dead as those of the feared plainclothes pro-regime militia, the Shabiha. Most resistance is peaceful, right across Syria, in city after city, thousands flooding onto the streets after breaking fast, shouting support for the people of Hama, demanding Bashar al-Assad go, and go now.

HARI SREENIVASAN: In a related development, Italy recalled its ambassador to Syria, accusing the Damascus government of horrible repression against the civilian population.

In Pakistan, paramilitary troops fanned out across Karachi after a two-day killing spree left at least 34 people dead there. Police have found bodies scattered throughout the port city of 18 million people. Some were riddled with bullets. Others showed signs of torture. Karachi has a history of political, ethnic and sectarian violence, much of it blamed on gangs tied to political factions. More than 300 people were killed in July alone.

Major flooding hit the capital of the Philippines today after a night of monsoon rains. At least one person was drowned. Waist-deep water swamped the streets of Manila and forced nearly 800 people to evacuate their homes as the Marikina River rose. The flood tide caused traffic jams across the city and shut down schools and businesses. Storms have battered the northern Philippines for the past two weeks, killing more than 60 people.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.