Civilian deaths as Syrian tanks enter Deir Ezzor

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Hundreds of Syrian army tanks were deployed in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor on Sunday, killing at least four civilians in their attempt to annul democracy protests, an activist said.


The clampdown came only hours after the government vowed to hold "free" elections by the end of 2011 and following a personal appeal by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to President Bashar al-Assad to “stop the use of military force against civilians immediately”.

Another two people died in the northwestern city of Idlib from gunshot wounds they suffered when security forces fired on protesters during massive demonstrations late on Saturday, said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights.

The Local Coordination Committees of Syria, which has been organising democracy protests on the ground, said the army had entered nine areas of Deir Ezzor, which was rocked by "very strong explosions".

The assaults came after a rare telephone call between Ban and Assad, with the UN Secretary General urging the Syrian president to immediately end the military campaign.

Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Saturday that elections to a new parliament would be held by year’s end.

"Syria will hold free and transparent elections that will give birth to a parliament representing the aspirations of the Syrian people," Muallem said.

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