Syrian army tanks have reportedly rolled into the southern city of Deraa as the regime of President Bashar al-Assad seems committed to intensifying its crackdown on anti-government protests, following a bloody weekend of killings by state security forces.
BBC, quoting a local witness, claims five more people have been killed in the Deraa offensive.
BBC also reported that tanks are surrounding the al-Omari mosque in Deraa, with security forces clearing out dead bodies from the streets.
Agence France Presse (AFP) reported that 3,000 members of the security forces were in Deraa, with snipers firing at people from rooftops.
Activist Abdullah al-Harriri, told AFP: The men are firing in all directions and advancing behind the armor which is protecting them. Electricity is cut off and telephone communications are virtually impossible.
An Al Jazeera correspondent in Damascus described the government's offensive in Deraa as unprecedented.”
There are also reports that Syrian military personnel have fired on demonstrators in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, the capital, and made many arrests.
A witness in Douma told Reuters: There are injured people. Scores have been arrested. The security are repeating the same pattern in all the centers of the democratic uprising. They want to put down the revolution using the utmost brutality.”
Syria has also closed off its southern border with Jordan.
Despite lifting the emergency laws last week, opposition to Assad appears to be increasing -- with many calling for his outright overthrow. Meanwhile, Assad is apparently in no mood to offer any further concessions and seems committed to maintaining his power at any cost.
According to a human rights activist, Suhair al-Atassi, quoted by BBC, Assad has launched a a savage war designed to annihilate Syria's democrats.”
Friday was the bloodiest day of the uprising, with at least 100 demonstrators killed by state security officers. More were killed on Saturday during funeral processions for the victims of the prior day’s violence.
On Sunday, more than a dozen people were killed in the city of Jabla in the northwestern part of the country.
The scale of the government’s brutal crackdown has led two MPs to resign over the weekend.
Navi Pillay, the United Nations human rights chief, blasted Assad’s regime.
The violence and ongoing repression of activists... indicates that either the Government is not serious about those reforms or it is unable to control its own security forces, she said.
The first step now is to immediately halt the use of violence, then to conduct a full and independent investigation into the killings, including the alleged killing of military and security officers, and to bring the perpetrators to justice”