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Assad Tightens the Noose around Syria’s Neck

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad sent tanks into Homs, the country’s third-largest city, as the dynastic dictator continues to crack down hard on protests against 41 years of Assad family rule.

According to Reuters, snipers and tanks have deployed throughout Homs, with the sound of gunfire ringing out through the city streets. Hundreds of people have been arrested today in Homs and in the Mediterranean coastal city of Banias.

A pro-democracy demonstration in the capital Damascus was also crushed by state security forces, with prominent opposition writer Ammar Mashour Dayoub arrested along with several students. Twenty people were arrested at a separate demonstration in the Barzeh district of Damascus.

Tanks also deployed in several southern towns, including Inkhil, Dael and Nawa.

Scores of people have been arrested in Salamiya, including 70-year-old leftist dissident Hassan Zahra.

Internet and phone service have also been cut by authorities, and foreign journalists are barred from reporting from Syria.

Sawasiah, a Syrian human rights organization, estimates that at least 800 civilians have been slaughtered by forces loyal to Assad since the uprising began in March. One Western diplomat told Reuters that around 7,000 others have been detained.

Despite promising reforms and lifting a 48-year-old state of emergency, Assad has shown no willingness to allow any challenges to his power.

The United States and the European Union have slapped new sanctions on the Assad regime as well as frozen its assets and restricted travel of more than a dozen top regime officials. Syrian officials continue to blame the unrest on “armed terrorist groups.”

A Syrian burns a photo of President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Reuters)

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