Tanks take up position around Syria ahead of protests

Assad deploys forces in central, coastal areas before Friday prayers in test of will for anti-gov't demonstrators calling for "day of defiance."

Tank Syria Deraa 311 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Tank Syria Deraa 311
(photo credit: REUTERS)
AMMAN - Security forces have moved into central Syria and coastal areas before Friday prayers in a test of will for demonstrators determined to maintain protests against the rule of President Bashar Assad.
In a show of force, tanks have taken up positions near the urban centers of Homs, Rastan and Banias in the past two days.
Human rights campaigners say security forces killed at least 62 civilians, including 17 in Rastan alone, during those protests.
A doctor who planned to take part in Friday's demonstrations said: "Indiscriminate killings and inhumane arrests have generated total disgust among the average Syrian."
"Soldiers with rifles no longer deter people. The propaganda that this regime is the only guarantor of stability no longer washes," he said.
The United States, which had joined a European drive to improve ties with Assad under the Obama administration, called the attack on Deraa "barbaric."