After Syria crackdown, calls for international action against Assad
The Obama administration confirmed it's considering sanctions for Syria, while the UN Security Council is drafting a statement calling for restraint.
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The day after the Syrian Army and security forces cracked down on antigovernment protesters – a move described by news outlets as a "dramatic escalation" and "harrowing new chapter" – there is growing momentum for international action against the Syrian government.
The Obama administration confirmed a Wall Street Journal report that it is considering sanctions and travel bans on Syrian government officials, while the United Nations Security Council announced it may draft a statement condemning Syria's violence and calling for restraint. The UN statement was sponsored by the United Kingdom, France, and Portugal.
On Monday, the Syrian Army moved tanks and thousands of troops into the streets of the city of Deraa while security forces stormed Damascus suburbs. There were at least 20 deaths, but the exact number is unclear because communication lines to the cities seemed to have been blocked.
Monday marked the first time the Syrian Army was used against protesters, as well as the first instance of security forces going on the offensive before protests began.
Reuters reports that a Syrian human rights organization said that at least 20 people were killed and more than 500 "pro-democracy sympathizers" were arrested in Deraa Monday. Another 500 were arrested elsewhere in the country.
Syria's protesters were dismayed by the Syrian Army's actions in particular – prior to Monday, they had hoped that it would mimic the Egyptian Army, which in January and February was more restrained towards protesters than the Egyptian police.
There are rumors of divisions emerging within the Army, with more soldiers refusing to fire on protesters and a spate of assassinations of military officials said to be sympathetic to the protesters, The Christian Science Monitor reported. In Deraa yesterday, military units clashed after some soldiers refused to fire on protesters. If the Army breaks ranks with Assad, it would severely undermine his regime's ability to survive.