Assad regime intensifies crackdown: After Hama, comes Douma’s turn

Unrelenting crackdown

NICOSIA - Syrian security forces on Thursday attacked a town north of Damascus that fell briefly under the control of deserters at the weekend, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
"A large number of members of the Syrian security forces attacked Douma in Damascus province on Thursday morning and set up roadblocks in the streets," it said in a statement, without saying whether there had been any clashes.
The information could not be independently verified because of restrictions imposed by the authorities on the free movement of journalists.
On Saturday, the Britain-based Observatory said deserters seized the entire town of Douma 20 kilometres (12 miles) north of the capital after fierce fighting, citing activists on the ground, before pulling back.
It said earlier that four civilians were killed in Douma when security forces fired on mourners at a funeral in the protest hub.
The Observatory also said there had been clashes on Thursday between deserters and soldiers in Daraa province in the south, where the revolt against President Bahar al-Assad's rule broke out in mid-March last year.
It gave a toll of "four dead and five wounded, including an officer," in the regular forces.
Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said in Nicosia by phone that the deserters "ambushed a security forces convoy in the Khirbet Ghazaleh area, and a firefight ensued."
The army, which on Tuesday attacked the central city of Hama, another hotbed of the revolt, was on Thursday deployed around certain districts in the city it had pounded the day before using heavy artillery, the Observatory said.
It described the atmosphere in Hama as calm but tense.