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Syrian tanks roll into Hama city square

Amid growing international anger, army continues offensive in key city.

BEIRUT — Syrian tanks stormed Hama under heavy shelling Wednesday, taking over a main square at the heart of the restive city and cutting off electricity, water and phone lines on the fourth day of an offensive. The U.N. Security Council added its weight to the growing international outcry, condemning the attacks on civilians.

Opposition figures and activists accused the regime of striking hard at a moment when world and media attention were distracted by the trial in Egypt of former President Hosni Mubarak.

“Hama is being collectively punished for its peaceful protests calling for the downfall of Bashar Assad,” said Suheir Atassi, a prominent pro-democracy activist.

At least three tanks took up positions in Hama’s central Assi square, which in recent weeks had been the site of carnival-like demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of protesters calling for the downfall of President Assad’s regime.

A religiously conservative city about 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of the capital with a history of dissent, Hama had largely fallen out of government control since June as residents turned on the regime and blockaded the streets against encroaching tanks.

At least three tanks took up positions in Hama’s central Assi square, which in recent weeks had been the site of carnival-like demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of protesters …

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