07/27/2011 07:09 am ET Updated Sep 26, 2011

Syrian tanks assault town, kill 11 civilians: groups

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian troops and security forces backed by tanks killed 11 civilians Wednesday when they stormed a town near Damascus, Syrian human rights campaigners said, in the latest crackdown on protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is based in Britain, said four tanks and a bulldozer entered Kanaker, 30 km (20 miles) southwest of the capital, while 14 other tanks surrounded the town.

It said residents threw stones and set fire to tires in an effort to block their advance, and shouted "God is greatest" from rooftops.

Citing witnesses, the Syrian National Organization for Human Rights, which is headed by opposition figure Ammar Qurabi, said military intelligence agents also arrested 300 people in the town and took them away in 11 small buses.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian authorities. Syrian authorities have expelled most foreign journalists from the country, making it difficult to verify witness accounts of events and official statements.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Alison Williams)