Syria orders thousands into stadium in Latakia crackdown

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Syrian security forces cracking down on opposition strongholds in Latakia herded thousands of people into a stadium and took away their identification cards and cellphones, activists said Monday.

Forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad continued hammering opposition strongholds in the country’s main port city, especially in the district of Ramleh, which has been pummeled with tank, gunboat and automatic weapons fire after unusually large antigovernment demonstrations broke out there Friday.

Security forces began ordering residents of the area, which includes a refugee camp housing more than 10,000 Palestinians, to go to a soccer stadium ahead of what they described as a huge military operation, activists said. At least five people were confirmed dead.

“They were told they should leave their homes and go to stadiums because the armed forces were going to flatten the area,” said an activist in the city, who asked that his name not be used. “Cellphone networks were cut as thousands of people left their houses and flocked toward the stadium. As they were gathered and directed to the stadium, their IDs were confiscated.”

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