Dozens arrested in Syria, more troops deployed in Daraa

Dozens arrested in Syria, more troops deployed in Daraa

Dozens of people were arrested in and around Damascus as the government continued its crackdown on pro-democracy activists which have killed an estimated 70 plus people in the past 24 hours, activists said Saturday.

Prominent activist Hazem al-Nahar has been detained since Thursday when he was summoned to a security station, seven local rights groups said in a joint statement on Saturday, dpa reported.

The statement named a further 65 people arrested in difference cities across the country.

Meanwhile, the government deployed more troops in the southern city of Daraa early Saturday. Gunshots were heard in the city, which has become the centre of anti-government protests and a violent government crackdown.

The witness said he had seen 20 tanks enter the city, a witness told Al Jazeera, with sounds of gunshots heard as he spoke.

Many of those injured were being treated by people in their homes, after access to hospitals became harder due to continues fire and threat of arrests by police, he added.

The military deployment came one day after 62 people were killed in the government's latest crackdown on protesters who took to the streets on Friday demanding greater freedoms and shouting slogans against President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrian observatory for Human Rights said that 33 were killed Friday in the southern city of Daraa and 27 in Homs. Two more were killed in Lattakia and Adlb.

Seven members of the police and army were also killed.

The protesters had defied a government warning and held "unauthorised" demonstrations in more than a dozen Syrian towns and cities, including the capital, Damascus.

There was no way to obtain independent confirmation of the casualty figures. Amid the violence, Syrian authorities have banned foreign journalists from entering Syria, with the government blaming the unrest on what it calls conspirators.

Syria has faced international condemnation over a violent crackdown as opposition groups estimate the death toll since mid-March at 600.

The European Union on Friday issued a fresh warning to the Syrian government to stop the bloody repression while signalling that it might target Damascus with sanctions.

The United States has already imposed new sanctions on al-Assad's regime.

Its sanctions are specifically aimed at Maher al-Assad, the president's brother and commander of the Army 4th Armoured Division, which the White House says has played a leading role in the assault against protesters in Daraa.

The measures also target Atif Najib, al-Assad's cousin and head of the Political Security Directorate at the time of deadly attacks by security forces on protesters, as well as Syria's General Intelligence Directorate and its director, Ali Mamluk.

The action freezes any holding in the US and bans US citizens from engaging in business with them.

The sanctions also name the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force for providing support to al-Assad's regime.

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