Syrian troops are continuing their crackdown in the city of Daraa, where anti-regime protests began last month. European countries, including Germany, have called on the UN Security Council to condemn the violence.
The crackdown on anti-regime protesters is continuing
A crackdown on anti-government protesters by Syrian troops backed by tanks in the southern town of Daraa continued for a second day on Tuesday. Activists said more troops had been dispatched to the town and were firing indiscriminately on residents.
The army entered the town overnight in an apparent crackdown against the ongoing anti-government protests which began a month ago. Up to 400 people are believed to have been killed by the security forces since the unrest began last month.
As the regime stepped up its military campaign, Western countries were attempting to increase diplomatic pressure on the Syrian government. France and Italy described the situation as "unacceptable" and urged the UN and the European Union to take "strong measures" against Syria.
Diplomats said on Monday that Britain, France, Germany and Portugal had drafted a letter urging the UN Security Council to condemn the violence and urge restraint.
The United States announced it was considering "targeted sanctions" against those closest to President Bashar al-Assad in response to the violence. Washington also announced a partial evacuation - of family members and nonessential staff - from its embassy in Damascus, citing "uncertainty and volatility" as its reasons.
Human Rights Watch called on the United Nations to set up an international inquiry into the fatal shootings by Syria's security forces and impose sanctions on officials who bear responsibility for the use of lethal force.
Anti-government protests began in Daraa in March
Following the deployment of army tanks in Daraa, Syria closed all its land-border crossings with neighboring Jordan. The Jordanian information minister confirmed that Syria was preventing people from leaving the country.
"Syria closed its land borders with Jordan," Taher Adwan said. "The Syrian decision is related to the internal situation in Syria," Adwan told the state-run Petra news agency.
The latest crackdown comes despite al-Assad last week signing decrees ending a draconian state of emergency, imposed by the Baath Party when it seized power in 1963. However the protesters have dismissed the measures, saying they don't go far enough.
Author: Rob Mudge, Joanna Impey (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn