Syrian forces raided houses in Hama on Thursday, residents said, hours after the city’s attorney general declared on YouTube he had resigned in protest against the suppression of street demonstrations.
Five months of protests have failed to unseat President Bashar al-Assad, who inherited power from his father and retains the loyalty of the core of his armed forces.
But demonstrators have been encouraged by the fall of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and rising international pressure on Syria, including a planned European Union embargo on the oil industry which would disrupt a vital source of income.
Residents of Hama said security police and state militiamen, known as shabbiha, raided houses overnight in the al-Sabouniya and al-Marabet districts.
The attorney-general of Hama — who authorities reported on Monday had been kidnapped by gunmen — said he had resigned because security forces killed 72 jailed protesters and activists at Hama’s central jail on the eve of the military assault on the city on July 31.