hillary clinton_311 reuters.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Tony Gentile)
The West warned of more pressure on Syria on Tuesday if a crackdown against
protesters continues, hours after tanks stormed a city in the south, the cradle
of a two-month uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad.
RELATED:Heavy gunfire in Syrian protest town; 7 reported dead
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that both the European Union and the
United States – which have already slapped sanctions on a number of senior
Syrian officials but not on President Bashar Assad – were planning more
“We will be taking additional steps in the days ahead,” Clinton
said, saying she agreed with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton, who told reporters that the time for Syria to make changes was
Rights activists say a crackdown to crush a two-month wave of
protests against Assad has killed at least 700 civilians.
moved into a southern city in the Hauran Plain on Tuesday after encircling it
for three weeks, activists said.
Soldiers fired machine guns in the air
as tanks and armored personnel carriers entered Nawa, a city of 80,000 people 60
km. north of the southern town of Deraa, according to activists from the
“The troops are now combing neighborhoods in Nawa and arresting
scores of men,” one activist said.
In Deraa, tanks remained in the
streets after the Old City was shelled into submission last month, and residents
gave accounts of mass graves that the authorities denied.
towns of Inkhil and Jassem remained also besieged, rights campaigners said,
adding that mass arrests continued in the Hauran Plain and other regions of
Diplomatic pressure on Assad continues to grow. French Foreign
Minister Alain Juppé said on Tuesday that France and Britain were close to
getting nine votes for a resolution on Syria at the UN Security Council, but
Russia and China were threatening to use their vetoes. Half of Kuwait’s 50
lawmakers urged the Gulf Arab state on Tuesday to cut ties with Syria and expel
its ambassador in protest at the violence to crush the protests.
not going to be like Egypt and Tunisia, where people gather in a central
square,” said Andrew Tabler, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East
“This is more scattered and it’s been going on longer, and that
indicates it’s going to be extremely difficult for Assad to maintain control,”
Tabler said. “Assad looked at what happened in Egypt and Tunisia, and decided he
doesn’t want that to be him.”
Villagers near Deraa have found two
separate graves containing up to 26 bodies, residents said, but Syrian
authorities dismissed such reports as part of “campaign of incitement” that
targeted the country.
Four residents said villagers had contacted the
local civil defense after noticing two mounds of earth in wheat fields just
outside Deraa’s Old City. Under the mounds were 22 to 26 decomposed corpses,
Their reports could not be verified because authorities have
barred most international media from operating in Syria.
on Saturday into the town of Tel Kelakh, close to Lebanon’s northern
Human rights campaigners said scores of people had been arrested
since Monday and that Assad’s forces were firing at several neighborhoods in the
city of 30,000 people.
Citing witnesses, the Local Coordination
Committees, an activists’ group, said several people were killed in Tuesday’s
offensive, adding to 12 civilians already killed by army shelling, shooting and
sniper fire in the past three days.
A Reuters correspondent on the
Lebanese side of the border heard shooting and could see smoke rising from the
village of Arida, which lies between Tel Kelakh and the border.
destroyed the houses, they cut electricity and water. The wounded are dying in
our hands and the dead are strewn on the streets,” a Tel Kelakh resident said by
She said she was hiding in a basement with seven
State news agency SANA said security forces clashed with
“wanted armed terrorist members” in Tel Kelakh on Monday, killing several and
capturing others, and seizing weapons, ammunition and military uniform. Fifteen
members of the security forces were wounded, it quoted a military source as
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said there were also mass
arrests in the cities of Homs, Deir al-Zor and Latakia, which security forces
had “robbed of normality.”
The Facebook page Syria Revolution 2011 called
for a general strike across Syria on Wednesday.