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Violence in Syria prompts new sanctions -

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Violence in Syria prompts new sanctions

Broadcast: 26/04/2011

Reporter: Anne Barker

The United States is discussing new sanctions against Syria, where tanks have reportedly fired upon
protesters in the town of Daraa.

Transcript

ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: The Australian Government has advised against travel to Syria and recommended
that all Australians should leave the country as president Bashar al-Assad intensifies his campaign
against protestors.

Tanks and soldiers have reportedly advanced into the heart of Daraa, the town at the centre of
protests.

Witnesses claim that in the past 24 hours government troops have shot dead as many as 25 people in
the city.

The government advance follows days of violence with reports of military assaults, deaths and
arrests.

Middle East correspondent Anne Barker reports.

ANNE BARKER, REPORTER: Syrian troops backed by tanks swept into the southern border town of Daraa.
Latest reports say the military assault on the town is continuing into a second day.

The terror that began before dawn yesterday was captured by one of the protestors.

Witnesses say troops, many in riot gear, attacked civilians on the streets, shooting
indiscriminately and even shelling the town. Up to 25 people were killed and the many wounded
struggled to make it to medical care.

In the past 24 hours, Syria has reportedly sealed its land borders with Jordan, supposedly to stop
residents fleeing the country and no doubt to keep foreign observers out. But it hasn't stopped
word of the crackdown reaching the outside world.

WOMAN (voiceover translation): They are bombing Daraa. Snipers are everywhere. Whoever looks from
the window is shot. They raid houses to arrest injured people. They are doing everything illegal.

ANNE BARKER: The Syrian government's crackdown has intensified across the country, apparently in
retaliation for mass protests last Friday against the president, Bashar al-Assad, when tens of
thousands of Syrians turned out across the country.

On that day alone, nearly 100 people were killed. New pictures from just outside Daraa on Friday
show just how brutally security forces move to crush the dissent.

And now the US is preparing to crackdown too on Syria.

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: We are pursuing a range of possible options including targeted
sanctions. I should note for those who don't know that we have had a fairly aggressive regime of
sanctions in place, unilateral sanctions since I believe 2003, and this would be an addition to
that if we were to pursue that course of action.

But we're certainly looking at different ways to make clear to the Syrian government how appalling
we find this behaviour to be.

ANNE BARKER: In Turkey, protestors took to the streets demanding the end of Bashar al-Assad's
regime.

Only last week the president signed an order to end Syria's 48-year state of emergency, lifting the
ban on political rallies. But the mounting crackdown against any dissent shows he has no intention
of giving Syrians the freedoms they crave.

Anne Barker, Lateline.