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September 26, 2017

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Troops storm Syria town; calls for UN action

DAMASCUS--Syrian troops and pro-regime militias stormed and torched a southern town on Saturday, reports said, as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warned divisions were giving Damascus a license to kill.

Hundreds of soldiers backed by helicopter gunships attacked Khirbet Ghazaleh in the province of Daraa — the cradle of a 16-month uprising — amid heavy gunfire, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

An activist on the ground who identified himself as Bayan Ahmad gave a similar account, saying pro-regime militias were setting alight houses in the town.

"The army entered without resistance as the rebel Free Syrian Army left town. The shelling has wounded dozens of people but we don't have medical resources to treat them," he added.

Elsewhere, a pregnant woman was among 28 people killed across the country, the Observatory said, a day after 118 people died including dozens of civilians gunned down by troops at anti-regime protests.

The violence persisted despite an international outcry over the killing of more than 150 people in the central village of Treimsa on Thursday.

Ban, the U.N. secretary-general, lashed out at the Syrian regime and called for the United Nations Security Council to urgently act to stop the bloodshed as its failure would give "a license for further massacres."

"I call upon all member states to take collective and decisive action to immediately and fully stop the tragedy unfolding in Syria. Inaction becomes a license for further massacres," he said.

The Treimsa killings have added urgency to deadlocked Security Council negotiations on a Syria resolution.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said on Twitter that the killings "dramatically illustrate the need for binding measures on Syria" by the council.

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