Syrian Troops Advance on Restive City of Hama

BY News Desk  August 2, 2011 at 9:29 AM EDT

Syrian demonstrators in Turkey; photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images
Members of a human rights group demonstrate outside the Syrian Embassy in Ankara, Turkey. Photo by AFP/Getty.

Syrian troops advanced further into the city of Hama on Tuesday, a day after government forces killed 24 people throughout the country on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, according to human rights groups.

Most of Monday’s deaths were in Hama, which has been the target of a heavy military operation since Sunday.

About 1,700 civilians have been killed since protests against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in mid-March, according to activists.

An activist, Omar, told the Associated Press that troops advanced about 700 yards from the western entrance of the city overnight, taking up positions near homes and buildings in an area known as Kazo Square. He said the force consisted of eight tanks and several armored personnel carriers.

Meantime, Western diplomats intensified efforts to force a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the violence. But an hour-long meeting Monday night in New York, which had been called by Germany after up to 100 people were reported killed on Sunday in Hama, failed to yield any unified stance, reported the Guardian.

Tropical Storm Emily Expected to Strengthen

Topical Storm Emily moved across the eastern Caribbean early Tuesday, setting off watches and warnings, the National Hurricane Center said.

At 5 a.m. ET, Tuesday, Emily had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, according to the center. It was located about 245 miles southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The storm was expected to strengthen over the next two days, the forecast said.

A tropical storm watch was in place for the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Antigua and Haiti.

The five-day forecast shows Emily crossing between the Bahamas and coast of Florida this weekend.

U.S. Consumers Cut Back on Spending

Americans cut back on their spending in June for the first time in nearly two years and their incomes grew by the smallest amount in nine months, the Commerce Department said Tuesday.

In June, consumer spending dropped 0.2 percent and incomes rose 0.1 percent. It was the weakest growth in income since September.

Reports: Former News of the World Executive Arrested

British police investigating phone hacking and police bribery at defunct tabloid News of the World arrested a man Tuesday believed to be a former executive at the newspaper.

The man was not officially identified in news agency reports. However, Sky News, which is 39 percent owned by the newspaper’s parent company, News Corp., identified him as former News of the World managing editor Stuart Kuttner, who retired in 2009 after 29 years serving as managing editor.

News International would not confirm the arrested man’s identity.

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