a.. Published 17:45 04.05.11 b.. Latest update 17:45 04.05.11Message 1 of 1 , May 5, 2011View Sourcehttp://www.haaretz.com/news/international/pro-assad-tanks-circle-damascus-heading-to-restive-syria-cities-1.359831
Pro-Assad tanks circle Damascus heading to restive Syria cities
Deployment around Rastan, near Homs, comes after residents resist Baath Party demand to hand over several hundred men in the town.By Reuters Tags: Israel news
Convoys of 30 tanks and up to 70 trucks filled with soldiers were seen on the circular highway surrounding Syria's capital Damascus at noon on Wednesday, a witness told Reuters. The tanks were from the Republican Guard, the only Syrian military unit allowed within the capital.
"Each truck had 20 to 30 soldiers. The convoy was either heading north in the direction of Homs or south in the direction of Deraa," said the witness, a former member of the Syrian army who did not want to be further identified.
Residents said tanks and armored personnel carriers had been deploying at the northern edge of the restive town of Rastan, 20 km (12 miles) north of the city of Homs, and 15 km away from its southern entrance since Wednesday morning.
The deployment followed the failure of an overnight meeting between residents and a ruling Baath Party official during which the official demanded the handover of several hundred men in the town. That meeting was held in the wake of pro-democracy protests on Friday during which security forces killed at least 17 demonstrators, the residents, who included a lawyer in the town, said.