April 25, 2011
At least 11 people are reported dead as Syrian troops and tanks rolled into the protest flashpoint town of Daraa on Monday, drawing international criticism.
Witnesses in southern Syria say the military came out in a sweeping show of force, as authorities widen their crackdown on a 5-week anti-government uprising.
The witnesses said they saw bodies in a car that had been attacked by security forces in Daraa. Video footage distributed by human rights groups shows tanks in the city along with dozens of soldiers.
Rights groups also reported gunfire from security forces in Douma, a suburb of the capital, Damascus.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay demanded that Syria curtail its military crackdown and investigate the killings of protesters.
The U.S. condemned the violence against Syrian citizens, calling it “completely deplorable.”
A National Security Council spokesman says the U.S. is considering a range of responses to the brutal crackdown, including targeted sanctions, to make clear that Syria’s behavior is “unacceptable.”
Also on Monday, Jordanian officials reported that the border between the two countries has been sealed and Syria is preventing people from crossing. Syrian officials denied the report.
On Sunday, rights groups said security forces killed at least four civilians and detained many opposition activists in the coastal city of Jableh, following a pro-democracy protest against President Bashar al-Assad the previous night.
Witnesses say the killings occurred even though no protests were in progress at the time.
Sweeps against anti-government protesters have escalated in Syria despite last week’s repeal of a nearly 50-year-old emergency law. The New York Times, quoting the executive director of the Syrian rights group Insan , said 217 people have disappeared since Friday.
Funerals were held for those killed in the violence Friday and Saturday. Rights groups say at least 120 people were killed in the 2-day crackdown.
President Assad signed a decree ending decades of emergency rule last week. The ruling was part of his effort to end anti-government unrest by meeting a key demand of protesters.
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