Syrian army troops backed by tanks and helicopters today took a prominent mosque that had been controlled by residents in a besieged southern city, killing four people, a witness said. The operation in Daraa came a day after President Bashar Assad unleashed deadly force to crack down on a months-old revolt, killing at least 65 people. Daraa is the heart of a six-week-old uprising and has been under siege since Monday, when the government first sent in tanks to crush the demonstrations.
The developments came after the Obama administration imposed financial penalties on three top Syrian officials, including Assad's brother, Maher, as well as Syria's intelligence agency and Iran's Revolutionary Guard over the crackdown. Meanwhile, diplomats say the UN's nuclear watchdog agency is setting the stage for potential Security Council action as it prepares a report assessing that a Syrian target bombed by Israeli warplanes in 2007 was likely a secretly built nuclear reactor. (Read more Syria protests stories.)