Syrian tanks attack centre of Assad protests

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The Independent Online

Syrian tanks, security agents and pro-regime gunmen fanned out yesterday into two towns, attempting to root out protesters demanding the resignation of President Bashar Assad.

The heaviest assault was in the city of Latakia, where a day earlier thousands had turned out in protests. At least 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers rolled into the city's el-Ramel district amid intense gunfire, that sent many residents fleeing the area, local rights activists said.

Pro-government gunmen, known as Shabiha, also entered Qusair near the Lebanese border, and several nearby villages, arresting scores of residents. Three people are believed to have been killed.

In some of the largest protestsseen since the anti-Assad uprising began, tens of thousands of people marched on Friday.