Syrian gunboats fire on coastal city; 5 killed

By ZEINA KARAM | August 14, 2011 | 4:30 AM EDT

In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone and provided by Shaam News Network, anti-Syrian President Bashar Assad protesters hold up an Arabic banner read:"Didn't you understand or have you stopped listening that we are a people who will bow only to God," during a demonstration against the Syrian regime, at Maarat Harma village, in Edlib province, northern Syria, on Friday Aug. 12, 2011. Tens of thousands of Syrian protesters shouted for President Bashar Assad's death Friday in a dramatic escalation of their rage and frustration, defying bullets and rooftop snipers after more than a week of intensified military assaults on rebellious cities, activists and witnesses said. Security forces killed at least 14 protesters, according to human rights groups. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network) EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO SALES, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS HANDOUT PHOTO

BEIRUT (AP) — Activists say Syrian security forces are storming several districts in the Mediterranean coastal city of Latakia under heavy shelling and gunfire.

At least five people have died in the shooting according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the activist network the Local Coordination Committees.

Abdul-Rahman says gunboats in the Mediterranean are taking part in Sunday's assault. He says they are firing heavy machine guns at Latakia's el-Ramel neighborhood.

At least 20 tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into el-Ramel Saturday amid intense gunfire.

The operations in Latakia are part of a crackdown on several cities to root out protesters demanding the ouster of President Bashar Assad.