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Terrorism & Security

Syria detains hundreds, hindering protesters' efforts to organize

Syrian security forces detained hundreds in a door-to-door arrest campaign today – a tactic that appears to be borrowed from Iran.

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"The shocks of the military campaign are being absorbed," he said. "We have seen that as soon as the Army withdraws or lessens its presence in one area to crush people elsewhere, protests erupt in the area the forces had left."

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The government continues to blame the unrest and deaths – including those of 10 civilians who were killed Sunday in an ambush on a bus returning from Lebanon – on "armed terrorists."

However, Al Jazeera reported that observers in Homs, which is near where the ambush took place, doubted the government's account. The Army and security force presence is particularly heavy in that area, they said, and "scores" of protests had been killed over the weekend.

Western diplomats based in Damascus say that Iran's role in the government crackdown is growing, the Guardian reports. They say that the number of Iranian personnel in the country is growing and that the door-to-door detentions is a tactic borrowed from Iran's brutal crackdown on the June 2009 protests that followed the country's presidential election. The White House made similar assertions of Iranian involvement last month.

Iranian news outlets have blamed the violence on foreign violence and terrorists.

“We have to understand the reason behind this kind of development…. We have to understand there are weapons, traitors, and terrorists,” Syrian lawmaker Muhammad Habash was quoted as telling Iran's Press TV. “My message … to our people [is that] we have to respect our Army and we have to respect the security in Syria.”

Hundreds of Syrians staged a sit-in near the US embassy in Damascus to protest what they considered US interference in Syria's internal affairs, SANA reports. The US sanctioned several Syrian government officials last week and has harshly criticized the Assad regime's crackdown on protesters.

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