Syria troops, snipers kill six in Daraa: activists

Syrian troops and snipers shot dead six people Saturday in the flashpoint southern town of Daraa, a rights activist told AFP in a telephone interview.

"There are six dead" in Daraa, an activist said, quoting witnesses in the town, the epicentre of nationwide protests that erupted in mid-March against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

"They were killed as the army began pounding the town at dawn and snipers opened fire," said the activist.

The army has besieged Daraa since Monday, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the town where there are huge shortages of water, food and medicine, activists said.

Snipers positioned on rooftops were targeting anyone leaving their homes, the sources said.

"The town is besieged. Food, water and medicine are running out," one activist said quoting a witness.

Residents have also said troops were "defecting" in protest at a deadly crackdown on protests in Daraa.

"Some (soldiers) refuse to obey orders to fire and are breaking ranks and seeking refuge with residents," the activist said, citing reports from Daraa.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 66 people were killed by security forces during massive protests across Syria on Friday, including 33 who died in Daraa alone.

The death toll from six weeks of a security crackdown against protests that erupted March 15 now stands at 539, according to the Observatory, while the Martyrs of the 15 March Revolution say a total of 582 people died.

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