The Syrian military tightened its suffocating siege on the city of Hama today, and activists said security forces killed at least 24 civilians the day before in a nationwide crackdown on anti-government protesters. A Hama resident, who snuck out yesterday for supplies, said tanks shelled the city last night, which resulted in several casualties. He said at least one of Hama's hospitals had been targeted. Authorities have imposed a media blackout on Hama and the reports could not be immediately confirmed.
"I am trying to get back but it's impossible, they've tightened the siege even more, not even an ant can go in or out today," he said. Syria's government has broadcast images of buildings and empty rubble-strewn streets in Hama, the epicenter of the protests, claiming the military was putting an end to an armed rebellion launched by "terrorists." Under the relentless clampdown, Hama residents yesterday warned that medical supplies were running out and food was rotting after six days without electricity. One resident described the humanitarian situation as "catastrophic." A Syria-based rights activist said at least 24 people civilians died yesterday, most in Damascus suburbs when security forces opened fire during daytime protests and late night demonstrations following evening Ramadan prayers. He said five were killed in Hama and its surrounding countryside.