Syrian security forces are removing the wounded "forcibly" from hospitals in the flashpoint city of Homs, the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch claims.
At the same time, Syrian activists have urged the international community to send in human rights groups to monitor and help deter military attacks on civilians — a move aimed at pressuring President Bashar al-Assad, DPA reports.
Syria officials in turn claim they are fighting against "armed gangs trying to destabilize Syria."
Assad and his regime have pressed on with a violent crackdown on dissent, beginning a large-scale military operation in Homs on Wednesday during which 23 people were reportedly killed.
Assad reportedly declared a state of war on Wednesday and issued a general mobilization of troops, the Jerusalem Post reports, citing Al-Quds newspaper.
The operation, dubbed "Bayrak al-Assad," was reportedly implemented secretly, and was a "major military operation" requiring full mobilization of Syrian military forces for concentrated offensives on cities across the country in order to eliminate "terrorists who threaten us."
Syrian forces also reportedly arrested dozens of people in house-to-house raids in Homs on Thursday.
And the country was bracing for another day of anti-government protests Friday, with a call for mass demonstrations made in a statement on the Facebook page of Syrian Revolution 2011.
Meanwhile, HRW said in a statement released in Beirut on Friday that:
"Syrian security forces forcibly removed 18 wounded people from al-Barr hospital in the central city of Homs on Sept. 7, 2011, including five from the operating room.
“Snatching wounded people from the operating room is inhumane and illegal, not to mention life-threatening."
HRW says Syrian security forces also prevented medical personnel from reaching the wounded in a number of the city’s neighborhoods on the same day, the AP reports.
“Cutting people off from essential medical care causes grave suffering and perhaps irreparable harm,” said the HRW statement, attributed to Sarah Leah Whitson, the organization's Middle East director.