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Syria Death Toll Nears 400
April 27, 2011

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The streets in major towns in Syria are turning violent, as the government has ordered more and more crackdowns on protesters. Nearly 400 people have died since the protests against the government of Bashar al-Assad began in mid-March.

Unlike the peaceful protests in Tunisia and Egypt, Syria's have been met with stiff resistance.

In the latest crackdown, a few thousand troops and tanks rolled into Daraa, where the protests began and still the scene of particularly large groups in the streets, and soldiers fired live bullets and tear gas at crowds in the streets and outside a mosque. Tanks also fired on civilian buildings, sending a message that protesters wouldn't be able to hide inside. Troops cut off electricity in Daraa a couple of days ago, and most food has spoiled as a result.

Security forces moved into place in the area surrounding another city, Banias, scene of large protests. Police also fanned out across Douma, a suburb of the capital city, Damascus. Troops manned security checkpoints in several cities, detaining large numbers of people.

Assad, who just days before had abolished the emergency laws that were the target of so many protesters' ire, ordered the crackdown, in addition to the roundup of particularly vocal activists, including one well-known leader who gave a widely viewed interview with the network Al-Jazeera.

Representatives of many other countries condemned the government's actions, to the point of calling for a United Nations resolution denouncing the attacks. The foreign minister of the Netherlands proposed that the European Union cut off aid to and institute an arms embargo against the Syrian government.



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