Syria Forces Shell Restive Daraa

Tank fire reported in contested town

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted May 1, 2011 10:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – Syrian army tanks today shelled the old quarter of Daraa, a city at the heart of the country's six-week-old uprising and rolled in more reinforcements to the area, which has been under siege for nearly a week, said an eyewitness. Residents have remained defiant: Unable to leave their homes, they have chanted "God is Great!" to each other from their windows in the evenings, infuriating security forces and raising each other's spirits. Daraa has been without water, fuel or electricity since Monday, when the regime sent in troops backed by tanks and snipers to crush protests seeking an end to President Bashar Assad's authoritarian rule.

Tanks fired shells into the heart of Daraa's ancient Roman quarter Sunday, said a resident who lives on the outskirts of the city. He said he could identify the weaponry because he was a former soldier. The death toll has soared to 545 nationwide from government forces firing on demonstrators—action that has drawn international condemnation and US financial penalties on top figures in his regime.

In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone, taken on Saturday, April 30, 2011, Syrian protesters carry candles during a night gathering in the coastal city of Banias.
In this citizen journalism image made on a mobile phone, taken on Saturday, April 30, 2011, Syrian protesters carry candles during a night gathering in the coastal city of Banias.   (AP Photo)
Syrian protesters hold banners calling for an end to a military siege in Nawa near the town of Daraa, the center of protests that have shaken Bashar al-Assad's once uncontested rule, on April 28, 2011.
Syrian protesters hold banners calling for an end to a military siege in Nawa near the town of Daraa, the center of protests that have shaken Bashar al-Assad's once uncontested rule, on April 28, 2011.   (Getty Images)
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Our houses are close to each other, so even though we can't go outside, we stand by the windows and chant. Our neighbors can hear us and they respond. - A Daraa resident

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