Syrian Army conducts widespread raids, arrests

The six-week-old revolt began in the now-besieged southern city of Daraa.

Updated: May 03, 2011, 00:37 AM IST

Beirut: The Syrian army on Monday conducted
raids in cities and towns across the nation, 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 said.

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

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

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 Organisation for Human Rights in Syria
and five other rights group issued a statement Monday
condemning the continuous arbitrary arrests across Syrian