'Fair' elections promised as tanks pound Hama

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Syria yesterday announced that "free and fair" parliamentary elections would be held before the end of the year, as government forces tightened their siege of the city of Hama.

Residents yesterday reported heavy shelling by tanks, and the deaths of at least five civilians in the city, the centre of the continuing uprising against the government of President Assad. On Friday Hama was the scene of renewed mass protests against the military and the President.