Gunfire and shelling rattled a city in central Syria today and killed a 12-year-old boy, as President Bashar Assad's autocratic regime expanded its military crackdown on a seven-week uprising by sending tanks and reinforcements to key areas, activists said. Authorities also reportedly arrested a 10-year-old boy, apparently to punish his parents, and filed charges against a leading opposition figure who is suffering from cancer.
The military and security forces carried out arrest sweeps and posted snipers on rooftops in flashpoints across the country today, including Homs, the coastal city of Banias, and the southern city of Daraa, where the uprising began, activists said. Hundreds were arrested in Banias, including the 10-year-old boy. In Daraa, security forces allowed people to come out for few hours to buy essentials but then imposed a curfew. Thousands have been arrested. Click for more on Syria.