User:Njb987/Syrian forces storm city to crush dissent

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date|May 8, 2011

Syrian troops, backed by at least seven tanks, stormed Baniyas before dawn on Saturday, rights activists say. Troops cut electricity and phone lines as tanks headed towards the southern sector of the city on the Mediterranean coast.

The army entered Baniyas, the hub of anti-government protests, from three directions, advancing into Sunni districts. Soldiers shot into the air as they moved through the streets, around 2 am. The campaigner said protesters resisted by forming human chains. Ammar Qurabi of the National Organisation for Human Rights told the Associated Press that three female protesters were shot dead by plainclothes security forces or pro-government gunmen.

The nearby town of Baida was encircled by tanks and army boats offshore.

The military sweep signals that the Syrian government is willing to use force to remove anyone that poses a challenge to President Bashar Assad's 11-year rule. The military's entry into Baniyas comes just two days after 40 military vehicles left Baraa, another protest centre which the military had locked down since April 25.

The United States warned on Friday it would take "additional steps" against Syria unless "they stopped killing and harassing their people."

The White house statement came after rights groups said Syrian forces shot dead at least 26 protestors on Friday at a protest. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets calling for democratic reforms, during a huge 'Day of Defiance’ against the regime. Since demonstrations first erupted in mid-March, human rights activists say more than 600 people have been killed. A further 8 000 people have been jailed, or gone missing.


Category:Syria | Category:Middle East | Category:Asia | Category:Politics and conflicts