Hundreds are detained in bloody Syrian crackdown
CAIRO – Syrian forces heaped more punishment Tuesday on residents of restive towns, detaining hundreds in raids or at checkpoints, firing on people trying to retrieve the bodies of anti-government protesters and even shooting holes in rooftop water tanks in a region parched by drought, witnesses said.
In the southern city of Daraa, where Syrian army tanks and snipers killed at least 34 people in two days, a resident said security forces shot and killed a man as he walked out of the main Omari mosque and shouted at them though a bullhorn: “Enough! Enough! Enough! Stop killing your brothers!”
Syrian residents reported hundreds of people detained Tuesday in the towns of Daraa, Jableh and outlying neighborhoods of Damascus – either seized at checkpoints or in dawn raids.
The crackdown by President Bashar Assad has intensified since Friday, when more than 100 people were killed. Security forces also conducted raids in the Damascus suburb of Douma and the northern coastal town of Jableh.
Human rights groups estimate that more than 400 people have been killed since mid-March as the Assad regime has tried to crush the uprising. But instead of intimidating protesters, it has emboldened them, and their calls for modest reforms have them now increasingly demanding Assad’s ouster.
European leaders escalated their criticism of the Syrian crackdown, with the French president calling the current situation “unacceptable,” and Britain’s foreign minister raising the possibility of sanctions.
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