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Syrian president replaces governors of tense areas
Syrian president replaces provincial governors of 2 centers of unrest as crackdown continues
By The Associated Press

BEIRUT (AP) ' Syrian security forces flooded on Sunday into villages where residents have been on strike and shot two people dead in a central region of the country, activists said, as embattled President Bashar Assad replaced the governors of two provinces that have been centers of the uprising against his regime.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces shot dead two people early in the day in the village of Qalaat al-Madeeq in the central province of Hama.

Meanwhile, the regime dispatched reinforcements to pacify several villages in the south of the country whose residents have been on strike since Thursday, said the Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees, another activist network.

A video posted online by activists showed most of the shops closed in the southern village of Khirbet Ghazeleh. The LCC said there were also strikes in villages in the southern province of Daraa.

The Associated Press could not verify the activists' accounts or the contents of the videos. Syria has banned most foreign media and restricted local coverage, making it impossible to get independent confirmation of the events on the ground.

State TV meanwhile reported that President Assad named Yasser al-Shoufi, a former police general, as governor of the northwestern province of Idlib. Assad also named Hussein Makhlouf as the governor of the Damascus countryside, which includes the Syrian capital's restive suburbs.

The provinces of Idlib which borders Turkey and the suburbs of Damascus are among the regions of Syria which have witnessed largescale anti-regime activity since an uprising against Assad's government began more than seven months ago.

Assad has replaced nearly half of the country's 14 governors since the uprising began in mid-March.

The regime has responded with a massive crackdown, and the U.N. says more than 3,000 people have died.

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