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Birthplace of Syrian revolution is pounded

Regime forces pounded the southern city of Deraa with anti-aircraft fire yesterday, reasserting control over rebel strongholds.

In the al-Balad district of the city on the southern border with Jordan, where the revolution broke out in earnest a year ago, around 20 tanks and armoured vehicles raked buildings with machinegun fire. Meanwhile, following a pattern seen in recent weeks in the Baba Amr district of Homs, in central Syria, the army took control of the northern city of Idlib, striking first with heavy gun fire before launching house-to-house raids.

On the diplomatic front, the UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan, was considering Syria's response to "concrete proposals" that he put forward aimed at ending the violence at the weekend.

As the violence raged on, it emerged that three prominent opposition members had resigned from the Syrian National Council, saying they had given up trying to make the group a more effective force in the revolt. Haitham al-Maleh, a former judge and longtime dissident against four decades of Assad family rule, was joined by the opposition leader Kamal al-Labwani and the human rights lawyer Catherine al-Talli in announcing their resignations.