Syria uses army to crush uprising; 25 killed
Syria sharply escalated its already deadly campaign to crush a five-week uprising early Monday, sending troops backed by tanks, snipers and knife-wielding security forces into the southern city where the rebellion began.world Updated: Apr 26, 2011 02:20 IST
Syria sharply escalated its already deadly campaign to crush a five-week uprising early Monday, sending troops backed by tanks, snipers and knife-wielding security forces into the southern city where the rebellion began. At least 25 people were killed, with many bodies lying in the streets, and dozens arrested, witnesses and activists said.
The offensive into Daraa was the most intense in a series of actions to put down dissent and appeared part of new strategy for pre-emptive strikes against the opposition to President Bashar Assad's regime rather than reacting to marches and protests.
More than 300 people have been killed across the country since the uprising began. But the relentless crackdowns on unarmed demonstrators have only served to embolden protesters, who started with calls for modest reforms but are now increasingly demanding Assad's downfall.
“We need international intervention. We need countries to help us,” shouted a witness in Daraa, who said he saw five corpses after security forces opened fire on a car.
Another witness said people were using mosque loudspeakers in Daraa to summon doctors to help the wounded as busloads of security forces and troops conducted house-to-house searches, causing panic in the streets.
“They are entering houses, they are searching the houses,” he said. “They are carrying knives and guns.”
All witnesses spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals. Syria has banned nearly all foreign media and restricted access to trouble spots since the uprising began, making it nearly impossible to get independent assessments.
The sweep into Daraa, a city of about 300,000 people near the Jordanian border, sought to hit the opposition movement at one of its pillars. The protests against Assad began there in March and several political figures from the area have stepped down to protest the violence in embarrassing defections from the regime.