Syria sends tanks into city of Deraa

Posted on | april 26, 2011 | No Comments

Syria’s army has advanced into the southern city of Deraa, using tanks to support troops amid an intensified effort to curb popular protests. In the US, the Obama administration is considering imposing sanctions on senior Syrian officials to pressure the regime to stop its violent crackdown, Reuters news agency quoted a government official as saying.The official said steps taken could include a freeze on assets and a ban on business dealings in the US, but gave no time-scale for the measures.

According to a UN Security Council diplomat, the UK and other European states are circulating a draft statement condemning the violence in Syria.

Opposition activists said Monday morning’s raid on Deraa involved as many as 5,000 soldiers and seven T-55 tanks.Tanks surrounded the Omari mosque in the old city with snipers firing from rooftops, anonymous opposition sources said. The opposition reported than more than 25 people were killed, and their bodies could not be reached because of the fierce gunfire. This claim could not be independently verified.

One activist, Abdullah al-Harriri, told AFP: “The men are firing in all directions and advancing behind the armour which is protecting them.”

“Electricity is cut off and telephone communications are virtually impossible.” While there are reports of growing strife among Syrian army officers on different levels – with suggestions that some soldiers have changed sides and are now fighting with the people of Deraa – foreign journalists have been prevented from entering the country, making information hard to verify.

Opposition activists have in recent days been describing Deraa as liberated territory, and two members of parliament and a local religious official resigned on Saturday to protest against the killing of demonstrators there.

In the Damascus suburb of Douma, where there have also been big demonstrations, witnesses said authorities had raided the neighbourhood, firing and making sweeping arrests.

AUTHOR: Martin Hijmans
E-MAIL: m.hijmans [at]


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