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SYRIA: Siege continues on Dara as tensions rise ahead of protests [Video]

May 2, 2011 | 12:04 pm

The weeklong siege on the flashpoint southern Syrian city of Dara continues, with military reinforcements continuing to deploy along its outskirts. Telephone lines, electricity and water supply are cut off to the city, a center of the earliest and most violent protests against the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Military forces have raided several homes in Dara and other cities and arrested human-rights activists, calling them a threat to security, Al-Jazeera reports. 

The siege has left the residents of Dara and its surrounding towns tense and afraid, witnesses say. Still, a sense of purpose and perseverance seems to propel pro-democracy demonstrators to the streets.

In the video above, Syrians in the town of Horan demand an end to the Assad regime.

Tension has also spread to the Syrian army, rights activists say. Military orders to use any means necessary to end the rebellion have met with resistance among some soldiers, residents say, even spurring an internal military gunbattle that resulted in several soldiers' deaths, according to a military source. No further details were available at this time. 

Syria-protests Meanwhile, in Damascus, residents are trying to carry on normal routines, but the atmosphere is tense. 

Many residents say they've spent the last few days in front of their TVs, watching the reporting by local, regional and international news agencies.

Protesters have regularly been taking to the streets on Fridays, with thousands of demonstrators defying the rigid security measures put into place by the regime.

Witnesses say Syrian security forces are preparing for massive rallies set to take place Friday, making ready buses and other means of transportation to cart away those who are arrested.

The talk in political circles is that the security crackdown in Dara has succeeded in quelling the rebellion in the town. Still, it is believed that military operations will continue over larger areas and with greater force. 

One political analyst, who requested anonymity, expects continued violence against civilians: "The crackdown in Dara is a classic case of a state imposing its sovereignty by force."

-- Roula Hajjar in Beirut

 Video: Protesters take to the streets Horan, Syria, on May 1, 2011. Credit: YouTube