AMMAN - Loyalist troops commanded by President Bashar Assad's brother surrounded the Damascus suburb of Harasta on Wednesday, residents said, in a campaign against urban centers seeing daily protests against his rule.
"Hundreds of Fourth Division troops have sealed off all of Harasta's dozen entrances. They are wearing combat fatigues, helmets, ammunition belts and carrying assault rifles. Water, electricity and phones have been cut," a resident of the large conservative suburb, who works as an engineer and managed to leave Harasta, told Reuters by telephone.
The Syrian authorities have expelled most foreign journalists, making it hard to verify witness accounts or official statements.