Syrian army conducts widespread raids

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Syrian army conducted raids in cities and towns across the nation Monday, arresting scores of people in an attempt to crush the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime, activists said.

Human rights activist Mustafa Osso said the army brought reinforcements to the western cities of Zabadani near the Lebanese border and the northern towns of Raqqa and Idlib.

"There's heavy army presence and soldiers are conducting door-to-door raids," he told The Associated Press.

Osso said army vehicles including tanks were also surrounding Zabadani.

Assad is determined to crush the six-week-old revolt, which began in the now-besieged southern city of Daraa but quickly spread across the nation of some 23 million people.

The arrests are part of an intensified crackdown that followed massive anti-regime protests last week.

Rights groups say at least 545 Syrians have been killed since authorities began their crackdown on the uprising.

Now, the once-unthinkable protests are posing the most serious challenge to four decades of rule by the Assad family in one of the most repressive and tightly controlled countries in the Middle East.

As the arrests were being made, the Syrian military has intensified its weeklong assault on Daraa as residents, struggled to find food, pass along information and bury their dead.

A drought-plagued city near the Jordanian border, Daraa has been without water, fuel or electricity since last Monday, when the regime sent in troops backed by tanks and snipers to crush protests seeking the ouster of Assad.

Syrian army tanks shelled the old quarter of Daraa on Sunday and snipers nesting on rooftops and hiding in minarets have kept people cowering in fear inside their homes.

The National Organization for Human Rights in Syria and five other rights group issued a statement Monday condemning the continuous arbitrary arrests across Syrian provinces.