Thursday, May 5, 2011

Syria Says Military Eases Siege of City

ABU DHABI—Syria's military said Thursday it had started to withdraw from the besieged town of Deraa, but residents of the southern city said tanks, troops and snipers still restricted their movement.

Syrian security forces also broadened their effort to stifle the seven-week protest movement against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, by raiding a Damascus suburb.

Scores of Syrians around the capital have gone into hiding after the army and security forces carried out a dawn raid/on the Damascus suburb of Saqba, arresting at least 300 people, residents and activists said. The raid was the latest in a wave of arrests and detentions sweeping Syria's protest hotspots, in an attempt to crush dissent that flared against Mr. Assad's 11-year rule amid uprisings that are sweeping through the Middle East.

Around 200 tanks surrounded the city of Al Rastan, just north of Homs, and "seem ready to enter any minute," according to a resident reached by telephone. Last month, protesters in Al Rastan destroyed an 8-meter-high statue of Mr. Assad's father, Hafez, who ruled Syria for three decades until 2000.


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