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The Mideast

Syrian Army Storms Northwest Village

Syrian troops stormed a northwestern village Sunday and made sweeping arrests in a region where the army has been conducting operations for weeks to crush growing dissent against the regime, activists said.

Syrian authorities have unleashed a brutal crackdown in an effort to put down a four-month-old uprising, and activists say more than 1,600 people have been killed since mid-March. The government blames the unrest on terrorists and foreign extremists, not true reform-seekers.

The Local Coordination Committees, a group that helps organize and document the protests, said tanks shelled a telecommunications tower and cut electrify and water early Sunday in Sarjeh village, in Idlib province.

The LCC also said authorities detained scores of people in the capital, Damascus, and its suburbs late Saturday.

The detainees included renowned movie producer Shadi Abu-Fakhr who was arrested in the Syrian capital, a Syria-based activist said on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals.

The regime has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted coverage of the uprising, making it nearly impossible to independently verify events on the ground.

Also Sunday, President Bashar Assad replaced the governor for the eastern oil-rich province of Deir el-Zour, which has seen intense protests calling for the downfall of the regime. Since the uprising began, Assad has removed several governors in tense provinces.

Samir al-Sheik, who was a Damascus-based police brigadier general, was sworn in for the new post in front of Assad, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said. He replaces Hussein Arnous who has been named governor of the southern province of Quneitra.

The uprising has been the most serious threat to the 40-year ruling dynasty of the Assad family.