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Syria - Jul 6, 2011 - 11:23

Last modified: 6 Jul 2011 08:23

Syrian troops have killed at least 22 people in a crackdown they launched in the central city of Hama on Tuesday, a human rights group said.

"At least 22 people were killed in Hama and more than 80 wounded, some of them seriously," Ammar Qurabi of the National Organisation for Human Rights said on Wednesday.

"The wounded are being treated in two hospitals in Hama," he said in a statement, adding that troops had entered the Al-Hurani hospital.

"A large number of Hama residents have fled either to the nearby town of Al-Salamiya or twoards Damascus," Qurabi said.

The US State Department on Tuesday urged the Syrian regime to withdraw its forces from Hama, a city of 800,000 people that saw a massive anti-government demonstration by as many as half a million people last Friday.

"We urge the government of Syria to immediately halt its intimidation and arrest campaign, to pull its security forces back from Hama and other cities, and to allow Syrians to express their opinions freely so that a genuine transition to democracy can take place," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.