[credit provider=”Courtesy of the BBC”]
Syria escalated its military crackdown against the country’s anti-regime uprising today, arresting hundreds of protesters today in house-to-house raids across the country, according to the AP. The scale of the crackdown – which targeted protest organisers and activists in the southern city of Dara’a, the central city of Homs, the coastal city Baniyas and the suburbs of Damascus – indicates that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is intent on crushing the seven-week uprising despite growing international outrage.
The arrests come just one day after Syrian troops occupied Homs, Baniyas and the suburbs of Damascus, cutting off electricity and phone lines.
The government’s brutal response to the protests triggered a European Union arms embargo Monday, as well as new sanctions that prevents 13 Syrian government officials from travelling in the E.U. and freezes their assets. The measures follow similar U.S. sanctions.
The United Nations said Monday that its proposed humanitarian assessment mission had not been granted access to Dara’a,which has been occupied by the army for 11 days. Activists say the city now faces a humanitarian crisis due to shortages of gas, bread and water.
Human rights groups say that more than 600 people have been killed by security forces and 8,000 people have been arrested or “disappeared” since the government crackdown began March 15.
Assad’s bloody campaign of violence and intimidation may be working. Turnout for Friday’s demonstrations was reportedly about 30% lower than the previous Friday.