Opposition: 8 dead in Syrian violence


CNN) -- Eight people, including two children, were killed Sunday when Syrian government forces, in tanks and armored personnel carriers, entered several towns in the Homs province in an attempt to quash protests, according to human rights activists.

The security forces shelled the town of Talbiseh, and one of the shells hit a school bus carrying children, according to protest organizers known as local coordination councils.

Cars were diverted on area highways, meaning the town's residents had to run through fields to a nearby town to escape the shelling, the councils said. The towns of Deir Ba'albeh and Teir Ma'alleh were also targeted, the group said.

Syrian troops fired on civilians, according to the organizers.

Some of the wounded, mostly young men in their 20s, were kidnapped as they arrived at the national hospital, the councils said. They were taken to an unknown destination.On Saturday, the death toll from violence Friday rose to 13, according to human rights activists.

CNN has not been granted access into Syria and is unable to independently verify the accounts.

Since March, Syria has been torn by street protests against political repression and a fierce security crackdown against demonstrators. The government's harsh actions toward marchers and its thousands of mass arrests have drawn widespread criticism.

Roughly 830 people have been killed in the protests, according tot he Syrian Human Rights Information Link. That number does not include security personnel, which the Syrian government claims died in attacks from "armed groups."

State media reported last week that the Syrian government has offered to hear complaints from citizens for four hours every Monday. "Interior Minister Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim al-Shaar ... specified Monday or every week for meeting citizens and listening to their complaints related to the Interior Ministry from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Ministry in Dummar," state news agency SANA reported on Saturday.

Citizens may also "continue" to file "written complaints via the complaint boxes distributed in front of police departments" and the ministry's website, SANA said.

The United States has imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior officials. This month, U.S. President Barack Obama singled Syria out for criticism during a speech on the Middle East.

However, in contrast to the sweeping multi-national push against Libya and its embattled leader, Moammar Gadhafi, there has not been any similar movement yet regarding Syria.

Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters on Friday it is unlikely there will be any U.N. Security Council vote on Syria through at least the end of May -- when France's rotation as the council president ends.

Another diplomat on the Security Council said Thursday that members did not want to submit a resolution only to have it vetoed by Russia or China, both permanent council members.

"As France, I think we would like a vote as soon as possible," Araud said. "But personally, I don't feel we are there."

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